You’ve been injured in a Miami accident. Now you’re struggling with a painful injury and have to figure out how to make ends meet. Not only do you have to worry about your normal day-to-day costs, but also the added expenses of your accident. Medical bills aren’t cheap and can add up quickly. You may also have a loss of income if you’re unable to work. This can make things much worse.
You know that you can file a lawsuit but are hesitant to hire an attorney. Why? You’re afraid that you can’t afford the legal fees. As personal injury lawyers, we understand that you’re probably struggling financially after an accident. We also know that you’re much more likely to get the money you deserve if you work with an experienced attorney.
This is why personal injury lawyers often agree to work on a contingency fee basis. We don’t want you to go without the legal help you need just because you’re afraid you can’t afford it. Contingency fees allow you to get the help you need without putting up money for legal fess up front.
What is a Contingency Fee Basis?
When an attorney works on a contingency fee basis, they agree to take your case in exchange for a share of your financial award. In other words, their fee is contingent on the success of your case. In most situations, your attorney will only be paid if they are able to successfully recover money on your behalf.
What Percent Of The Award Will My Attorney Take?
Many factors can go into calculating your attorney’s fee. While there are some loose guidelines, attorneys are generally free to create their own compensation schemes. Many factors can affect the percent that you’ll be expected to pay your attorney. These can include:
- Attorney experience
- Attorney success in handling similar cases
- Case complexity or difficulty, and
- Geographic location.
In Miami, most personal injury attorneys will agree to take a case in exchange for anywhere between 30 and 40 percent of the award. Studies show that the average attorney will receive one-third of the compensation awarded to a plaintiff.
Calculating the Percentage: Gross Award vs. Net Award
There’s one very important question you need to ask your attorney: will the percentage be applied to the gross or net award? The answer could drastically affect how much of the award you will receive.
The gross award is the amount that you’ve been awarded or agreed to accept in a settlement. No fees, costs, or expenses are subtracted from this amount before your attorney’s share is calculated.
Example: You agree to accept a settlement offer of $100,000 for injuries you sustained in a car accident. The agreement with your lawyer states that they’re entitled to 30 percent of your gross award. Your attorney will receive $30,000 for their services. That leaves $70,000 for you.
Is your attorney using the gross award to calculate their fee? Ask them who will be responsible for covering things like court costs and expert witness fees. Will the attorney cover these expenses using their fee, or will you be expected to pick up the tab with the remaining award?
The net award is the amount that you’ve been awarded or agreed to accept in a settlement, reduced by any case-related costs. Things like filing fees, court costs, and expenses for investigators and expert witnesses.
Example: You’re awarded $100,000 for the injuries you sustained in a slip and fall accident. The agreement with your attorney states that they’re entitled to 30 percent of your net award. The costs and expenses generated by your case totaled $25,000. Your net award is $75,000. Your attorney will receive 30 percent of $75,000, or $22,500. That leaves $52,500 for you.
Since the net calculation factors in expenses, you know that you won’t be responsible for them.
Always take the time to speak with an attorney about their compensation scheme. Don’t be afraid to ask the following questions:
- What percentage of the settlement or award will you take?
- Will you calculate your fee using the gross award or net award?
- Will I be responsible for any hidden costs or fees?
- Who covers costs and expenses if we don’t win?
These questions can help you find the best attorney for your case. Contact Lavent Law for a free consultation today.