Often, we are asked how much it costs to hire a personal injury lawyer. Some accident victims never hire a lawyer because they are afraid they cannot afford these services. However, the contingency fee structure we offer allows accident victims to retain our services without paying for our services upfront. This allows them to delegate their case to seasoned professionals while they focus on their recovery.
When you hire a lawyer at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys or anywhere else, it is important that you understand how attorney fees and other costs work. We have provided some general information below, but you can also reach out to us for help with your specific questions.
Types of Attorney Fee Structures
There are a few different ways that attorneys can charge for their services. Some of the most common approaches include:
With a flat fee, an attorney charges a set amount to handle a certain type of case, often transactional work like creating a will or deed. The client pays this amount regardless of how many hours the attorney works on the case.
One of the most common ways various types of attorneys charge for their services is with an hourly rate. The attorney sets a rate for each hour they work on a case. They then bill the client for the number of hours they worked multiplied by the hourly rate.
Sometimes, attorneys may charge a retainer in combination with an hourly rate. The retainer serves as a down payment for services. The client pays the retainer, and the attorney starts work on the case. For example, an attorney may charge $2,500 before starting a case. If the attorney charges $250/hour, the attorney would work for ten hours to be fairly compensated with the retainer. Then, the attorney would bill the client for additional services after working hours beyond the retainer.
A danger to an hourly rate is that legal services may cost more than the client anticipated because the attorney may work more hours than expected. Rates vary among lawyers as well.
A contingency fee is a fee that is conditioned or “contingent” on the outcome of a case. The lawyer agrees to accept a portion of the money they are able to recover on the client’s behalf. The client does not pay for the attorney’s services unless and until the money is recovered. If the attorney does not recover any money, the client does not owe anything for their services.
Based on Florida law, contingency fee agreements must be in writing and signed by the lawyer and client. Specifically, the agreement must state the percentage of the recovery the lawyer will receive, other expenses the client will be responsible for paying, and how expenses will be deducted from the recovery.
Factors That Affect Attorney Fees
Under Florida’s Professional Rules of Conduct, attorneys are instructed not to charge unreasonable fees. Factors that lawyers can use to determine a reasonable fee include:
- The time and effort required for the case
- The novelty and complexity of the legal questions involved
- Whether the fee is fixed or contingent
- The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client
- The lawyer’s experience, reputation, and ability
- The expertise and skill expended on the legal services
- Whether taking the case will prevent the lawyer from taking other cases
- The custom fee charged in the area for similar services
- The amount involved in the case
- The responsibility involved in the lawyer’s representation
- The results the lawyer obtains
If you have any questions about how your attorney’s fees are set, feel free to ask during your free consultation or at any point during your representation.
In addition to the direct payment for the lawyer’s services, clients may be required to pay costs related to their case, which might include:
- Court filing fees
- Witness fees
- Medical record retrieval fees
- Copy charges
- Long-distance telephone charges
- Travel costs
Florida’s Professional Rules of Conduct also dictate how the reasonableness of costs are to be determined, which include factors such as:
- The disclosure of these costs to the client
- The agreement between the lawyer and client about costs and how costs are calculated
- Actual amounts charged by third parties to the lawyer
- In-house charges for services
- Whether specific costs can be identified and attributed to the client or if they can be accurately estimated
- The previous course of conduct between the lawyer and client
Depending on your fee agreement, you may or may not be responsible for these costs if you don’t win your case.
Contingency Fee Arrangements and Accepted Rates
The Florida Rules of Professional Conduct provide additional limitations for attorney’s fees based on contingency arrangements. These rules apply to cases involving car accidents and product liability cases, in addition to other personal injury cases.
These limitations specify the highest percentage that a lawyer may take in a contingency fee agreement. In most cases, the contingency fee percentage will be between 30 and 40%. Contingency fee agreements are agreed to ahead of time, so you will not be caught off guard by what your attorney will charge you if they secure compensation for you.
Contact Our Fort Walton Beach Personal Injury Lawyers for More Information
If you have any questions about the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, do not hesitate to reach out to Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys for more information. We can discuss our contingency fee arrangement with you and how it benefits you. Remember, we do not get paid for our services unless we get compensation for you; we take on that risk so you can feel more comfortable. Contact us today for your free case evaluation at (850) 863-5297.