In a personal injury matter in the state of Florida, the attorney fees are called contingency fees. What this means is that they do not get paid unless they get money for you. When a case settles, the contingency fee for the attorney is a percentage of that recovery amount.
Typically, if the case settles without needing to file a lawsuit, the attorney will take 33 1/3% (33.33%). For example, if your case settles for $25,000, you will split that with your attorney; they will get $8,333.33 and you will get the remaining $16,666.67 to cover your medical expenses and reimburse your attorney for the costs they paid throughout the case as well, and after the expenses are paid, you can pocket the rest. If the BI or UM does not offer an amount that’s enough to cover all expenses, including attorney fees, or if they are not accepting liability in an accident in which their client is to blame, your attorney might seek litigation. If there is a lawsuit filed, your attorney will charge a higher percentage, usually 40%. In the event of a lawsuit, if the settlement amount is $50,000, it would be split $20,000 for your attorney, and $30,000 would remain for your expenses and net.
What Happens if the Case is Terminated?
If you were to decide to terminate your case with your attorney and hire another one, they are still entitled to their time involved in the case (called “quantum merit”), so they will place an attorney lien on the file for the other attorney to cover, and it will be typically be considered an additional expense that the new attorney will take out of your settlement with them. This lien will include any costs that your attorney paid upfront while you were still working with them. If you were to choose to represent yourself once your attorney is terminated, you would still be responsible for their fees and reimbursements. However, if your attorney initiates the withdrawal and decides not to continue with your case, they are typically not entitled to fees and expenses.
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