If you have been injured in a car accident, you likely have many questions about what to do next. You may realize that hiring a lawyer to pursue compensation on your behalf is something that you need to do. But, if you’ve never hired a lawyer before, or specifically never hired a lawyer for a car accident before, you may not know where to start.
There are many qualified car accident lawyers in Florida, but at St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we provide personalized attention to each case. We have learned that getting to know our clients, how their injuries have affected them, and developing a relationship of trust increases the value of each claim, We are unlike the firms that you see on TV, on billboards, on bus stops, or on the radio. If you hire a firm from an ad, expect to be assigned a case manager or paralegal and never have any contact with a lawyer. Since the fees are the same regardless of which firm you choose, why would you want a paralegal handling your case instead of a lawyer?
In Florida, car accident cases are handled on a contingency. This means that the lawyer is paid a percentage out of the recovery for his or her fee. This is different from many other types of cases. For example, if you need a civil lawyer, that lawyer will charge you a retainer and then bill you by the hour. If you need a criminal or traffic lawyer, you will be billed as a flat fee. Injury cases are different because the recovery is uncertain and because there is more risk involved, contingency agreements have become standard.
How Much of a Fee Is Charged by the Lawyer out of the Car Accident Settlement Money?
In Florida, all contingency cases for the recovery of money from bodily injury claims are controlled by Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5. The Florida Bar has placed caps on the percentage of the recovery that the lawyer can charge. This was done in an effort to protect the public from being charged too much. Although the caps are in place, the amount of the cap has become a standard in the industry. Therefore, while a lawyer can legally and ethically charge less than the cap, that is uncommon. The reasons why lawyers must continue to charge at this rate is that the insurance companies continue to make car accident claims longer, more costly, riskier, and pay less.
The contingency fee caps according to the Florida Bar are 33 ⅓% of any recovery up to 1 million, 30% between 1 million and 2 million, and 20% of anything over 2 million. If the case goes into a lawsuit, the fee increases to 40% after the filing of the answer by the defendant. Additionally, if an appeal is required, 5% is added to the fee. Thus, the system’s goal is to attempt to get claims settled without litigation.
What Are the Risks to Hiring a Lawyer After an Accident?
Because the contract with the lawyer is a contingency basis, there is no risk. For example, if the case falls apart or there is no insurance to pursue, you do not owe the lawyer anything. This fee arrangement makes it a no brainer to get a lawyer involved as soon as possible.
You are also protected by the Florida Bar because you can cancel the contract with your lawyer within 3 business days. So, if you hire a lawyer and are not satisfied with the lawyer or firm, if you send a cancellation in writing, you can change lawyers. You also do not owe the first lawyer anything. I frequently am retained by clients who are unhappy with their previous lawyer for lack of communication. If you sense this is going to be a problem from the start, change lawyers. The fee is the same, so get someone you feel comfortable with.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Claim:
If you have been injured in a car accident, don’t wait to see if you get better before you speak to a lawyer. The advantage of contingency contracts with lawyers is that you are never going out of pocket if the case doesn’t work out. Therefore, there is no risk and there are many benefits to get someone hired immediately. A car accident lawyer will be able to answer any questions that you have about how the process works. This includes what to say to insurance companies and who you need to talk to. A lawyer can also assist you in finding appropriate medical care. Many people who have not been in a car accident before have no idea where to get treatment for their injuries. A lawyer will be able to refer you to providers that specialize in your specific types of injuries.
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in representing people injured in car accidents in Pinellas County and throughout Tampa Bay. If you have any questions about our services or what we can do for you, please contact us for a free consultation.