In these tough economic times the Firm appreciates the fact that many individuals and businesses may be struggling to make ends meet but may still need legal services. To ensure that all who need the Firm’s help will get it, the Firm offers flexible fee arrangements as described below:
Contingency Fee Agreements
A contingency fee agreement is typically entered into between the attorney and the client in a personal injury case where the recovery is “contingent” on either a settlement with, or judgment against, the tortfeasor (otherwise known as the “defendant”). Settlements can occur at any time, either before or after a lawsuit is filed. And even during the middle of a trial. In fact, upwards of 80-85% of cases settle before they ever go to trial. In most cases, a judgment will not be obtained until the case goes to trial and the jury finds in your favor, awarding you money damages.
The Florida Supreme Court has mandated that in personal injury cases, an attorney cannot take a fee greater than 33 1/3 % of any settlement if the case settles before the defendant answers the lawsuit complaint. Note that a defendant has twenty days to answer the plaintiff’s complaint. If the case settles at any time after the defendant answers the complaint, or, if the case proceeds to trial and a judgment is obtained, then the attorney may accept 40% of the contingency up to $1 million dollars. For amounts over $1 million the percentage paid to the attorney is reduced as mandated by the Florida Supreme Court.
Contingency Fee Hybrid Agreements
While the contingency fee agreement is more common in the personal injury case, the Firm offers a hybrid of the agreement in other types of civil litigation matters. For example, the Firm allows the client to pay an agreed upon flat fee (e.g., $3,000) or an agreed upon hourly rate (e.g., $350/hour) until the contingency occurs. Upon occurrence of the contingency, all money paid to the Firm on either a flat fee or on an hourly basis, gets deducted from the Firm’s share of the contingency fee.
Flat Fee Agreements
Flat (or fixed) fee agreements are useful when the client wants certainty in the amount of fees he, she or it will pay to the Firm. The Firm and the client agree to a flat fee based upon the goals of the client and the anticipated work involved in the case from the Firm’s perspective. This fee is paid up front and other than paying for costs of the lawsuit (see below) the client owes no other fees to the Firm for the remainder of the legal representation.
Hourly Rate Agreements
As a board-certified trial lawyer who has been practicing for over 22 years, Tom’s fees range between $200 and $350 per hour.
The hourly rate agreement is often recommended to the client in a case where the Firm anticipates a prompt resolution of the legal matter; when it is difficult to gauge the amount of legal work required due to novel facts or legal issues; or, when the client only needs the Firm’s services on an occasionally basis.
When an hourly rate agreement is chosen the Firm requires an advance of anywhere between $2500 and $3000.
No matter which of the above fee agreements is entered into between the Firm and the client, the client will always be responsible for the Firm’s costs. In a contingency fee case, the Firm will typically pay all costs of the lawsuit as they are incurred. These costs, however, are deducted from the settlement of judgment amount after the Firm takes its contingency fee.
The Firm’s costs in a lawsuit will typically include filing fees, service of process fees, subpoena fees, medical records fees, long distance telephone charges, photocopying, courier expenses, postage, exhibit preparation fees, doctor and expert witness fees, computerized legal research charges, travel expenses, deposition and court reporter fees, and other out of pocket expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of the legal matter.
For those cases that go to trial and the client prevails, the client will be able to “tax” some of these costs against the defendant. This means that the client (or Firm) gets reimbursed for the costs. Costs that are “taxable” against the losing party are filing fees, service of process fees, court reporter fees, expert witness fees, and depositions if used at trial.