Over the past 15 years, we’ve been asked thousands of questions from prospective clients about how much we charge. And we’ve happily given thousands of answers.
Thus, to streamline the process, I’ve added many of the questions and answers to this page.
Rightfully so, prospective clients want to know if it’s worth it to hire an attorney. Many want to know whether they’ll be able to afford a lawyer. (We’re happy to report that the the answer is “Yes”.)
Here, we list the most common questions that we’ve been asked. More importantly, you’ll get detailed honest answers about our attorney’s fees and costs.
It gets better:
You’ll see what attorneys cannot charge you for. Knowing this information can prevent you from getting ripped off if you choose to hire another lawyer.
You would not believe the ridiculous and illegal costs that I’ve heard that personal injury attorneys charge their clients for. Just when I think that attorneys can’t get more greedy, I hear about new prohibited charges.
If you are injured in Florida or on a cruise, I would love for you to hire me as your personal injury lawyer.
However, in the event that you decide to hire another lawyer, please do me a favor:
Learn learn what an attorney cannot charge you for.
Knowing this information may save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
I am not implying that another lawyer is going to rip you off. Hopefully, most Florida personal injury attorneys are ethical. However, some lawyers are simply unaware of the costs for which a Florida personal injury attorney cannot ethically or legally charge. They then try to charge for everything under the sun, even if it is considered to be an excessive fee (and thus not allowed by our regulatory body).
The problem is that without knowing what is legal, clients won’t know if the attorney is charging an excessive cost.
It is against the law for a Florida personal injury lawyer to charge you excessive costs.
Here, you will also learn what fees and costs are considered excessive. I have said that 76 factors affect the value of a personal injury settlement. One of those factors is the quality of your lawyer. If you choose an attorney who charges you for excessive costs, you will get less money in your pocket. Not too mention that it is illegal.
In a moment, you’ll also see real examples of our fees and costs from some of our accident settlements.
But first, let me explain the types of people who we represent. We only represent people who are injured in Florida or on a cruise.
Ok. Here we go.
Do you have to pay us any money up front for us to represent you?
No. We are only paid if we make a recovery. This is discussed in detail further below.
Do you owe us any money if we do not settle or collect money for you in your case?
No. This means that you don’t owe us fees or costs if we lose your case.
How are we paid? How much are our fees and costs?
We are paid a contingency fee, which is a percentage of the total amount recovered in your personal injury case. We also are reimbursed (paid back) for the costs that we front (advance for your claim).
If we settle your claim before a lawsuit is filed, we are paid 33 1/3%* of the total settlement. We are also paid back for the costs that we advanced for your case.
If we settle your claim after a lawsuit is filed, we are paid 40%* of the total settlement. We are also paid back for the costs that we advanced for your case.
These fees apply if your case is worth $1 Million dollars or less. Most cases are worth much less than $1 Million dollars.
If your case settles for an amount above $1 Million, our fees on any amounts above the first $1 Million are reduced according to the maximum amount allowed under the Florida bar rules.
If your claim is against the county, state or city, then our fees are 25% of the total settlement against the county, city or state, regardless of whether the case is settled before or after a lawsuit is filed. We are also paid back for the costs that we advanced for your case.
If your claim is against the federal government, and if we settle against the federal government before a lawsuit, then our fees are 20% of the total settlement.
If your claim is against the federal government, and if we settle against the federal government after a lawsuit is filed, our fees are 25% of the total settlement against the federal government. We are also paid back for the costs that we advance for your case.
Please remember that the above descriptions contain only a general description of our attorney’s fees and costs and are not a statement of contract. All fees are subject our contract.
What are some examples of costs?
If the case is settled before a lawsuit there are some typical costs. Costs are different than attorney’s fees.
Costs include police reports, costs charged by hospital and medical providers for copies of medical records and copies of bills, criminal background checks, past claims history checks and photographs, certified mail. There may be additional costs as well.
On rare occasions, we charge for copies and regular mail postage.
Here’s a great tip:
Ask your attorney if he or she charges for copies made in their office. Copy charges can quickly add up to a few hundred bucks.
Sometimes, but not always, costs may include legal research costs, expert witness fees, fees for medical conferences and fees for a final medical report.
If you give us permission to file a lawsuit, then there are additional costs. They typically include the lawsuit filing fee, which is usually around $400. Other lawsuit costs may be for serving summonses and subpoenas, court reporters fees, including fees for medical testimony and all litigation-related expenses. There may be additional costs as well. Lawsuits aren’t cheap.
We will make every effort to keep these costs at an absolute minimum, consistent with the requirements of the case.
But you can relax:
In order for us to pay anyone after a settlement, you must approve and sign a closing statement. And our closing statement lists every single cost.
Here’s a free tip:
Before hiring an injury lawyer, ask him or her if they’ll list every cost on the closing statement. If they won’t, you’ll have no idea if they are being honest with you.
You have the right to know every single cost, line by line. Don’t let a lawyer just show one amount for all the costs.
However, our costs won’t come as a shock to you.
This is because, before we incur a big cost, we let our clients know about it. And we get their approval before we pay the cost.
Moreover, we do our best to try to let you know about every cost as we incur it. Thus, there are no surprises.
That said, we typically don’t inform you about charges for certified mail until the closing statement.
$445K Settlement Without Lawsuit (See Our Attorney’s Fees and Costs)
We settled a case for $445,000 before we filed a lawsuit for a client who was hit by a truck while riding a motorcycle. The $445,000 settlement was before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses.
Our fees were 33 1/3% of the total settlement, which was $148,333. We hired an accident reconstruction expert who required a retainer (up front payment) of $2,500. That cost alone is much higher than our average cost for our 2017 personal injury settlements. (You’ll hear more about that in a moment.)
We paid the hospital and medical providers to get copies of medical records and bills.
To show how much the client received, we use this formula. In this example, I’m going to keep it simple. I have not listed several other costs that we were reimbursed after we were paid our attorney’s fee.
I also did not list several other medical bills that were deducted from the client’s portion of the settlement after we were paid for our fees and costs.
We’re responsible for repaying medical providers from the client’s portion of the settlement. I am using approximate costs and medical bills to keep it simple.
Attorney’s fees: -$148,333
Accident Reconstruction Expert: -$2,500
Hospital Medical records charge: -$53
Orthopedic doctor Medical records charge: -$22
Medical bills owed
Hospital Bills: $13,500
Other Medical Bills: $16,750 (Approximately)
In the actual case, the client received approximately $236,891 because there were additional costs that we advanced and additional medical bills that needed to be repaid.Client net settlement: $280,592
We did not file a lawsuit in the above case, but if we had, the formula would be similar, except our fees would have increased to 40% of the total settlement instead of the 33 1/3%.
The costs would have increased because there is a cost for filing a lawsuit as well as other litigation related costs.
What is our Average Cost in a Personal Injury case?
Earlier I talked about what costs are. Typically, they include the cost of paying to get the injured person’s medical records, bills, the crash report, certified mail, and some other things. In some cases, other costs include amounts that we pay the injured person’s doctor for a conference. We are more likely to incur this cost in a bigger case.
Every case is different. Thus, no two cases have the exact same cost. In 2018, our average cost was for our personal injury settlements was likely under $100.00. This is an estimation. However, I think that it’s highly accurate.
Now, I’ll share two examples of personal injury cases where my costs were almost nothing.
$250K Slip and Fall Settlement (Costs Were Almost Zero)
Angela was staying at a resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. That’s close to Disney World and Universal Studios. She stepped into the bathtub in her hotel room. Seconds later, she slipped and fell. As a result, she broke her arm.
Before hiring me as her injury attorney, she saw that we settled a hotel bathtub slip and fall case for $197,500. And we did so without a lawsuit!
We claimed that the bathtub surface was unreasonably slippery. Philadelphia Insurance Company insured the hotel. We settled Angela’s injury claim against the hotel for $250,000. About $225,000 of the $250,000 settlement was for her pain and suffering.
It gets better:
Costs are just $35.00 to send Angela her portion of the settlement, which is for over $149,000. Costs would have been under $7.00 if she would have wanted us to send her the check via certified mail. Of course, she was welcome to come to my office to pick up the check. However, she didn’t choose this option.
Can you blame her?
My office is about four hours from where she lives (and was injured). Yet, she trusted me to handle her case.
Don’t you love the power of telephones and email?
Not to mention Skype, Whats App, or Google Hangouts. We use all of the above.
Our costs would have been zero if Angela would have picked up the check at my office. However, she wants us to wire her the funds. Currently, my bank charges $35 for a domestic wire. And $50 for an international wire.
The $197,500 settlement that I mentioned above was for an out of state visitor who was injured in Florida. We’ve settled over $1 million in cases for out of state visitors who were hurt in Florida car accidents.)
$50K Motorcycle Accident Settlement (Costs Were Under $7.00)
The best part?
Our costs were just $6.59! Yes, that’s under $10.
However, I did charge my attorneys’ fee, which was $16,666.66.
I’ve settled several personal injury cases for clients where there was no cost, although I did charge my attorney’s fee.
Also, as I’ve said above, I always charge an attorney’s fee if we settle the case. When I use the term “costs”, I am not referring to outstanding bills that the injured person owes the hospital, doctor or another medical provider.
Do Bigger Cases Typically Have More Costs?
All things equal, yes. However, big settlements don’t always have more costs than smaller ones. Sometimes a larger settlement may actually have a lower cost than a much smaller settlement.
How Some Government Employees Get a Huge Benefit By Having an Attorney
There are many benefits from hiring a personal injury lawyer. Here, I want to focus on the benefit that a city, county or state employee in Florida gets by hiring a personal injury lawyer.
If your “health insurance” pays benefits, then they are entitled to be paid back from the personal injury settlement. To keep it simple, we’ll call this a lien.
However, if you have an attorney, your health insurance company must reduce its lien by your pro-rata attorney’s fees and costs. This can result in a big savings to the injured client.
Police officers, teachers, firefighters are just a few professions who get this benefit associated with hiring a lawyer.
This law also applies to individuals with a private (not through work) health insurance plan.
Unfortunately, this law doesn’t apply to people who have “health insurance” through a big employer like Walmart, Publix, Disney and many others who have a self-funded health plan with airtight reimbursement language.
If You Hire a Lawyer, Can You Do Anything to Keep the Costs Down (Lower)?
Possibly. If the injured person requests their medical records from the hospital or doctor, sometimes the charge is less than if the attorney requests them.
It’s best that the injured person requests that the hospital put the medical records on electronic media (USB, flash drive or CD). If the patient requests that the medical provider give him/her the records on electronic media, the medical charges are often much lower.
This is because federal law limits the amount that medical providers can charge the patient for electronic records.
Do You Owe Us a Fee if We Recover Benefits from Medical Payments (“Medpay”) Coverage?
No, unless we have to sue in good faith to get the “Med pay” benefits. Some auto insurance policies have medical payments coverage. The same is true with liability insurance policies for businesses or homes.
The Florida Supreme Court said that an attorney could not take a fee on medpay. Florida Bar v. Thomas, 698 So.2d 530 (Fla.1997). In the Thomas case, Rottblatt was injured in slip and fall accident. Her attorney got her a settlement of $16,000 in liability benefits plus $5,000 in “med pay.” I wasn’t the the lawyer in that case.
Her doctor was owed $3,100 of the $5,000 med pay amount. Rottblatt’s attorney wrote a check to the doctor for $3,100. The attorney kept the remainder of the $5,000 med pay ($1,900).
The court said that the $1,900 belonged to the client, and was in excess of the contingency fee allowed by the fee settlement agreement. Thus, the attorney couldn’t take a fee on med pay.
However, if the insurer would’ve denied the med pay benefits, her attorney could’ve sued for med pay. In that case, if he sued, he would’ve been able to take a fee on med pay.
If we settle your case and we receive our fees and costs, will you owe any medical bills?
Assuming that we are able to settle your personal injury case, we are entitled to receive our fee from the total settlement.
Our goal is for the remainder of the settlement (after our fees and costs) to pay for all of your out of pocket past medical bills, if any. We also want there to be as much money as possible for you after all of your bills are paid.
In most cases that we’ve handled, our clients’ portion of the settlement was larger than our attorney’s fee.
That is good news for clients.
Additionally, we have never had a case where, after we received our fees and costs, and our client received money to pay for all the medical bills, our client was left with out of pocket bills.
Could it happen? Yes, anything is possible.
However, we are selective in the cases we take and do our best in trying to accept cases where we feel that our clients will be happy with the outcome.
Most personal injury settlements with insurance companies are based on historical settlements and verdicts. This means that insurance companies often look at past cases to predict future settlements.
We have withdrawn (stopped representing a client) in a few personal injury cases where the medical bills were likely to eat up the entire settlement.
Can We Estimate The Future Necessary Costs if We’re Your Attorney?
We will periodically tell you how much money we’ve spent on your behalf. We’ll usually send you emails with any cost invoices attached.
In the beginning of a claim, there are some estimated future necessary costs that we’re usually aware of. They are:
- The cost to get your medical records and itemized bills
- DUI records if a drunk driver caused your accident
We will only request documents that we believe have a good likelihood of increasing your case value.
You also have the right to decide, after consulting with us, how much money is to be spent to prepare your case.
Can We Give You a List of Itemized Costs from Our Actual Past Cases?
As far as costs for similar cases, every case is different. We’ve had some cases where the costs were zero. This is because the medical records/itemized bills were free. Further, there were no other costs.
We’ve had other cases, where our client had surgery, and there were hundreds or thousands of pages of medical records. In some of those cases, we hired an accident reconstruction expert or life care planner. In larger cases, the costs can add up quickly.
Will You Get Less Money Than Us or Your Doctors?
We will do our best in an attempt to put as much money as possible in your pocket. Our goal is for you to get more money in your pocket than we receive as attorney’s fees. We want happy clients.
That said, there is a chance that we receive the same amount of attorney’s fees as you. This is more likely to happen if you don’t have health insurance or the equivalent. It is also more likely to happen if there is limited bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance available.
Attorneys Can’t Charge Fees on Medpay Benefits Before a Lawsuit in a Slip and Fall Case
In another case, Pogue was injured in a laundromat, Wash King. The Florida Bar v. Silver, 788 So.2d 958 (Fla.2001). His attorney, Silver, received a check from Nationwide Insurance Company for general liability coverage (“medpay“) made payable to the client in the amount of $3,937.58.
The attorney took a fee on the med pay benefits. The court said that the attorney wasn’t charged with a violation in connection with his a taking a full contingency fee on the medpay benefits. This implies that charging a fee on med pay isn’t allowed. I assume that the attorney didn’t sue to get Med pay benefits.
If Nationwide would’ve denied the med pay benefits, and her attorney would’ve sued for med pay, then the lawyer would’ve been able to take a fee on med pay.
Do We Need Your Permission to File a Lawsuit?
Yes. Pursuant to Rule 4-1.2(a), a lawyer must have the client’s consent to either sue or settle a personal injury case.
The intent of filing a lawsuit is typically so that you will get more money in your pocket than you would get if you accept a current offer, if one exists.
Some possible risks of filing a lawsuit are that you may have to accept a lower offer, or get no offer at all. This is true even if you already have a pending settlement offer.
An attorney cannot file a lawsuit on your behalf without your informed authorization.
If We Lose The Case, Will You Have to Pay Any Charges?
You would have to pay the defense costs if you choose to sue, and take the case to trial, and you lose at trial.
Also, if the defendant makes an offer [of judgment] to you during a lawsuit, and you reject it, and your judgment after trial is least 25% less than that offer, then you’d owe the defendant it’s reasonable fees and costs.
The good news?
We can buy insurance which protects you against these fees and costs if the defendant makes a successful offer of judgment against you. Legal Fee Guard offers this insurance in Florida.
Of course, if we buy this insurance, and we settle your case, then we’re repaid for this cost. Like all other costs, we are reimbursed after we are paid our attorney’s fees.
On the bright side, we’ve never had a client owe defense fees or costs.
Learn if the defendant can countersue you in a slip, trip and fall, or other accident on someone’s property.
Do We Charge for Paralegal Fees?
No. In a contingent fee case, it is improper to charge separately for work that is usually otherwise accomplished by a client’s own attorney and incorporated into the standard fee paid to the attorney. This is true even if that cost is paid to a third party provider. Florida Bar Ethics Opinion 07-2.
Therefore, we do not charge for paralegal fees.
Do We Charge a Fee for Consulting with An Appellate Attorney?
No. Not unless any appellate proceeding is filed or post judgment relief or action is required for recovery on the judgment.
During the course of the claim, I decide that I want to consult with an attorney who specializes in appeals. However, we are not filing an appeal. In this instance, I cannot charge you for the appellate attorney’s cost.
Please do not let a personal injury attorney try to charge you for this excessive cost.
Do We Charge for Phone Calls (Whether Local or Long Distance)?
No. We don’t charge for long distance phone calls unless you live in a remote country and we are unable to use Skype, What’s App, Google Hangout, or Facebook to speak via video phone.
Also, we don’t charge for local phone calls.
Do We Charge You a Fee or Cost to Prepare the Closing Statement If We Get a Settlement?
No. An attorney cannot charge a fee or cost for preparing a closing statement in a Florida personal injury case.
Do We Charge You a Fee or Cost for Storing or Disposing Your File at the End of the Case?
No. We don’t nickel and dime our clients.
What is the Best Way for You to Know Which Costs Are Excessive?
In my opinion, the best way to see if a Florida personal injury lawyer is charging you an excessive fee is to look at this Authority to Represent and Contingency Fee Agreement. That contract is on The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar.
That fee agreement is not the “standard” personal injury contract. But that is only because there is no “standard” fee contract. However, if there was a standard fee contract, that is likely what it would look like.
You can breathe a sigh of relief:
My fee contract is almost identical to that fee contract. I do have an additional sentence that says that my representation for the personal injury or wrongful death case does not include other claims like probate, workers’ compensation and guardianship. I added that sentence to make it clear that I am only handling the personal injury case.
Hiring a probate lawyer is only necessary if your family member was killed in the accident. Also, in a child injury case, a minor guardianship may need to get set up if the settlement is above a certain amount.
Florida injury lawyers usually charge 33 1/3% to settle a case. Realtor’s only charge 3%. Why is that?
These are two totally different industries. As of January 31, 2018, the average sales price for homes in Florida was $217,300. 3% of that amount $6,519.00.
An attorney from one of the largest injury law firms in Florida said that his average attorney’s fee is $5,000. Since most cases settle before a lawsuit, attorneys usually get 33 1/3% of the total settlement. Thus, this implies that his firm’s average injury settlement is about $15,000.
This is for a settlement without a lawsuit. Therefore, in reality, Florida attorneys’ fees and realtors commissions are quite similar.
Some personal injury cases don’t settle. They go to trial. If the injured person loses at trial, he or she gets nothing. In that instance, the injured person’s attorney doesn’t get paid.
Other personal injury cases settle for much more. One example is my above motorcycle accident case that settled for $445,000.
Also, a Florida lawyer goes to college and law school for a total of seven (7) years. Then they have to take the bar exam.
A person can become a Florida realtor without any college. One can become a realtor in weeks or months. Their exam is much easier.
Someone caused your injury in Florida (or on a cruise). Should you hire a lawyer?
In serious injury cases, yes. There are over 11 huge benefits to hiring a Florida accident attorney.
Injured in Florida, or on a cruise?
Check out some of the many Florida injury cases that we have settled, including but not limited to car accidents, truck accidents, slip or trip and falls, motorcycle accidents, drunk driving (DUI) accidents, pedestrian accidents, taxi accidents, bicycle accidents, store or supermarket accidents, cruise ship accidents, dog bites, wrongful death and much more.
We want to represent you!
Our Miami law firm represents people anywhere in Florida if someone’s carelessness caused their injuries in car accidents, truck accidents, slip, trip and falls, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, drunk driving crashes, pedestrian accidents, cruise ship or boat accidents, store or supermarket accidents, wrongful death, accidents at an apartment complex, condo building or home, accidents involving a Uber or Lyft Driver, and many other types of accidents.
We want to represent you if you were hurt in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state we may also be able to represent you.
Call Us Now!
Call us now at (888) 594-3577 to find out for FREE if we can represent you. We answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.