What Does It Cost to Hire an Ocala Personal Injury Lawyer?
Strictly speaking, it costs nothing upfront to hire an Ocala personal injury lawyer.
You only pay after your lawyer has already won your case and the defendant has paid the compensation. This is how almost all personal injury lawyers operate.
The Initial Consultation With Your Ocala Personal Injury Attorney
Just as most personal injury lawyers charge no upfront fees, they charge nothing for initial consultations. At your consultation, the lawyer will be interested in determining whether your case is worth investing time and energy into.
They will want to answer two questions:
- Can they win your case?
- How much is your case worth?
Naturally, those two questions are important to you too. A consultation will give you a better idea of whether you really need a personal injury lawyer.
The Contingency Fee Arrangement – How Does It Work?
Under a contingency fee system, your lawyer abandons the hourly rate model that other lawyers use. Instead, they will typically earn a fee of 33% to 40% if they win your case. 40% is only likely if your case goes to trial (most claims don’t). There are several reasons, detailed below, why the contingency fee system is good for both you and your lawyer.
The Incentive of Contingency Fee Agreements
When you negotiate with an insurance adjuster in a claim, your interests are adverse to each other. The more money you win, the less money the insurance company gets to keep, and the less you win, the more the insurance company gets to keep.
Contrast the foregoing analysis with a comparison of your interests versus your personal injury lawyer’s interests. Since your lawyer’s income is based on how much you win, the more money you make, the more money your lawyer makes, and the less money you make, the less money your lawyer makes. This harmony of interests makes you and your lawyer allies.
Equal Opportunity for All Personal Injury Victims
In personal injury law, there is no such thing as being too poor to afford a lawyer, at least if you have a strong claim. A homeless accident victim with a strong claim can attract the interest of the best personal injury lawyer in Florida. This setup gives everyone equal access to the legal system.
What You Pay If the Attorney Loses Your Case
Personal injury lawyers don’t lose many cases because they only take strong claims to begin with. If they do lose, however, remember that 33% of zero is still zero, so your legal fees will also be zero. A few personal injury lawyers will still charge you for case expenses, but most won’t.
Ocala Personal Injury Case Expenses
Case expenses are payments to third parties that come out of your lawyer’s pocket. If you win your claim, your lawyer will charge you for case expenses.
This might include:
- Court costs
- Expert witness fees (for medical specialists, accident reconstructionists, etc.)
- Written expert reports, even if the expert does not testify
- Investigation expenses
- Copying expenses
- The preparation of trial exhibits
- Independent medical examinations of your injuries
- Physician’s reports
- Court reporter fees for depositions
- Video deposition costs
- Miscellaneous expenses
Many of these expenses accrue only after your lawyer files a lawsuit. However, most cases settle before any lawsuit is filed. Under some circumstances, case fees might add up to thousands of dollars, while under others, they might be insignificant.
Florida Bar Association Ethical Rules on Contingency Fees
Florida lawyers are subject to ethical standards promulgated by the Florida Bar Association.
In settlement negotiations, a Florida lawyer can charge:
- 33% of the first million dollars in compensation
- 30% of the second million in compensation
- 20% of any amount over two million dollars
If your lawyer files a lawsuit and the opposing party files an answer to your lawyer’s formal complaint, they can charge you up to 40% of the total amount of your claim. This amount goes back down to 33% of the first million, 20% of the second million, and 15% of any amount over two million if the defendant admits liability and the only issue at trial is the amount of their liability.
A lawyer can charge higher fees under unusual circumstances, but the court must approve any departure from the foregoing guidelines.
What Can an Ocala Personal Injury Lawyer Do For You After an Accident?
Many studies estimate that injury victims who hire lawyers receive an average of 3.5 times more compensation than unrepresented claimants.
Below is a list of some of the tasks your lawyer might perform on your behalf.
- Investigate your case: Medical malpractice and product liability claims are particularly likely to require extensive investigation.
- Gather and organize admissible evidence: This includes finding expert witnesses if necessary and learning about the subject matter of the expert’s testimony to formulate effective questions to ask.
- Determine the value of your claim: It might be worth a lot more than you think it is. Accuracy is critical if you suffered long-term injuries, and future damages can be difficult to calculate.
- Advise you against common mistakes that victims make: There are hundreds of these (e.g., talking about your case on social media).
- Negotiate your claim for you: Remember, even if your lawyer is doing the negotiating, only you can approve a settlement.
- Draft a formal complaint and file a lawsuit (if necessary): Complaints must be drafted with extreme care because (i) they must comply with strict rules of civil procedure, and (ii) every sentence of a complaint has consequences.
- File a bad faith claim against the insurance company if they refuse to cooperate in negotiations: This is a separate claim that could result in additional compensation for you.
- Handle depositions, interrogatories, and other aspects of pretrial discovery.
- Represent you in mediation or arbitration: A full-blown civil trial is much more difficult to manage than a case in small claims court. At trial, your lawyer must comply with strict rules of evidence and procedure, but these standards are relaxed in mediation and arbitration.
- Draft an airtight settlement agreement: Like a lawsuit complaint, every sentence of a settlement agreement has consequences.
- Represent you at trial if necessary: Most claims never make it to trial even after the lawyer files a lawsuit.
- Appeal an adverse verdict (if necessary).
There are many other tasks your lawyer might perform for you, depending on the facts of your case.
Schedule a Free Consultation To Discuss Your Claim With an Experienced Ocala Personal Injury Lawyer
You have nothing to lose but a bit of your time by scheduling a free initial consultation with an Ocala personal injury lawyer from Allen Law Firm, P.A. During the consultation, the lawyer can comment on the viability and ultimate value of your claim. They can also explain their fee structure to you.
We offer a free consultation. Contact our Ocala office at (352) 351-3258 to arrange a time to discuss your case today.