Is It Ever “Free” to Hire an Attorney?
You hear plenty of advertisements for personal injury lawyers on TV and radio about how an attorney will offer you a “free, no obligation consultation,” or that the attorney does not get paid “unless they recover money for you.” Is it actually true?
The short answer is yes, but every personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, actually in Florida, will meet with a prospective client injured in a car accident, slip, and fall accident, workers compensation accident, or any other injury or accident case, for free. The offer of a “free consultation” is nothing more than an attempt grab your attention with a headline that is a little misleading.
The same goes for the advertisement that the personal injury attorney does not get paid unless they recover money for you. ALL Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers, and all personal injury lawyers in Florida, work on a contingent basis. That means that you as the client will not pay any upfront fees or costs. Hiring a lawyer on a contingent basis also means that you will not be charged a retainer fee or receive a monthly or quarterly bill for work performed on your claim. The personal injury lawyer you hire will work on your file until the conclusion – whether that is at trial, mediation, or a presuit settlement – then will get paid a percentage of the amount recovered.
How Do Contingency Fees Work for Lawyers?
The amount a personal injury lawyer is entitled to for a contingent injury or accident claim is controlled by the Florida Bar. Rule 4-1.5 of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct limit all contingent attorney’s fees to 33 1/3% of any settlement up through the filing of a lawsuit, and 40% of any amount recovered after the lawsuit has been filed and an answer has been filed. The amount of attorney’s fees allowed is also limited by the amount recovered. For instance, a recover of more than $1 million dollars is reduced below the percentages above, and a recovery of more than $2 million is further reduced. All personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale and in Florida who take an accident or injury claim on a contingent basis are required to follow this rule. If any lawyers tell you differently, do not hire that lawyer.
In addition to the attorneys’ fees being controlled by the Florida Bar in a personal injury claim, any attorney that takes your claim on a contingent basis is also required to provide you with a copy of the Statement of Client’s Rights for Contingency Fees. This is a form prepared by the Florida Bar that informs the person hiring the personal injury lawyer of their rights when entering a contingent fee contract. It explains that all contingent fee contracts must be in writing, that you have three (3) days to cancel the contract for any reason, and that you must be provided a copy of the contingent fee agreement.
The Ads are Only Telling You a Part of the Truth
Almost every radio and TV advertisement you hear for personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale will mention “they don’t get paid unless you do.” That is not a special promise, or anything special that lawyer is going to do for you. All personal injury lawyers work on a contingent basis so do not be fooled thinking you are getting a special deal just because you are hearing it in a radio or TV advertisement.
The best assessment about the true cost of an attorney comes when you go and meet with the attorney. There, your potential attorney will outline the strength of your claim and the likelihood of compensation. With that information, you’ll be able to learn how much you’ll need to pay for the attorney. For more information about your personal injury accident or injury, contact the lawyers at Maus Law Firm, 954-784-6310 or complete our contact form. We offer free consultations and case evaluations — both in our Fort Lauderdale office or in a location more convenient to you.