Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer: Contingency Fee and Free Consultations

Having to hire a Personal Injury attorney because of a serious accident can be a difficult task. Whether you were in a car accident, bicycle accident, a slip and fall at the super market or at the shopping mall; whether you were injured at home depot, walmart, target or on an escalator you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Many attorneys will accept a personal injury case but not all of them are willing to handle the case from start to finish. Some will simply sign up your case only to refer it to another firm that you know nothing about just to get a referral fee. Others, like big law firms will have you meet with an experienced Partner only to delegate your case to a young Associate. Yet others who profess to specialize in personal injury claims may only handle your case "pre-suit" and refer it out to a Litigation Firm you know nothing about. It is important to make sure that the attorney you hire is willing to handle and prepare a strong personal injury case himself from start to finish.

Free Initial Consultation

Make sure that you are offered a free consultation. This can be done on the telephone or in person at the Broward County Personal Injury Attorney's office. An experienced personal injury attorney knows that it is often difficult for clients to travel to the Attorney's office and should not hesitate to make a house call. While it is always good to meet with the attorney at his office to get a feel for what type of image he will project, that may have to wait until the client is in better shape to travel. The free consultation should explain how the whole process works and the Attorney may even express his opinions on the merits of your case. Be wary of Attorneys that tell you how much your case is worth at the initial consultation. Unless he has a crystal ball he is only guessing or worse, telling you what you want to hear just to get your case.

Remember that in addition to being your advocate your attorney is also required to advise you as to the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Some clients get put off when attorneys address the weaknesses of a case but a good Broward County Personal Injury Attorney would not be doing his job if he sugar coated things and just told you what you wanted to hear. The Attorney will be responsible for making the decisions concerning the strategy and handling of your case but you will be responsible for deciding whether to settle or not. If you haven't been properly informed as to the strengths and weaknesses then you won't be able to make an informed decision on whether to settle.

What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?

It is a type of contract that creates an attorney/client relationship where the client only pays the lawyer a fee if there is a recovery in favor of the client. Rule 4-1.5(f) of the Rules of Professional Conduct requires the agreement be in writing and clearly state the method by which the fee is determined. Most lawyers in Florida base their fee on a percentage of the recovery to the client. Usually 33 percent before the filing of a lawsuit and 40 percent thereafter. For cases against the State, County, Municipality, or any other Governmental Entity, the fee that can be charged is capped at 25%. There are many other contingencies and fee percentages, just remember that they are required to be clearly explained in the Agreement.

Cost and Expenses of Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Another matter of concern are the "costs" or "expenses" associated with bringing the case. These are different from the attorney's fee and can usually include the cost charged by the Clerk's office for filing the lawsuit as well as charges for medical records, reports and for investigators and expert witnesses. Most Attorneys will agree to advance the costs on your behalf so long as you agree to be ultimately responsible for them in the end or, at the very least agree to pay them out of your recovery. The Contingency Fee Agreement is also required to specify whether expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingency fee is calculated. Most attorneys that agree to advance the costs will require them to be deducted after the contingency fee is calculated. Although this results in a larger fee to the Attorney you must remember that they effectively financed your case through the point of recovery. Of course you have the option of paying the costs as they are incurred. You can even contract to pay the Attorney by the hour instead of on a Contingency Fee basis, however, most clients would rather shift the risk to the Attorney and pay only in the event of a successful recovery. Always remember that your Attorney is placing just as much stock in you as you are in him. The attorney may advance thousand of dollars for expenses and spend hundreds of hours working on your case. Under the Contingency Fee Agreement the Attorney only gets a fee if he gets a recovery for you.

Choosing an Attorney to Handle Your Case

So if you are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Florida to handle a case, you have many to choose from. You can choose a large law firm where the contact may be a bit impersonal and the lawyer you consult with may actually delegate your file to a younger attorney still learning the ropes. Or you can choose a small firm that gets to know you and your case. Most smaller firms and sole practitioners handle your case from start to finish. They are willing to meet with you at your home if you are seriously injured and they will personally visit the scene of your accident to gain their own perspective on your case rather than simply sending out an investigator. Small firms are very selective in the cases they choose to accept thus enabling them to immerse themselves in your case to help maximize the recovery to you. Whatever your injury situation, there is an attorney in Broward County and throughout Florida who can help.

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