One of our founding fathers’ primary goals was to make sure all persons in the United States have access to our legal system, if they have a grievance. In today’s world there are two “keys to the courthouse” — one most people can afford and are able to use if necessary, and the other only the rich and powerful and big corporations can afford. You should know your rights.
Attorneys are paid in two main ways for working on a case: The hourly rate method or the contingency fee method. Under the hourly rate method, the clients pay the attorney a contractually agreed upon rate per hour to work on their case. Depending on the type of case and the area of the country where the case arises, and the court in which the case is being litigated, most attorneys charge between $250 – $500 per hour.
Many lawyers in the State of Florida, if billing hourly, charge toward the higher end of that rate. Usually, the more experienced and renowned an attorney is, the higher the hourly rate will be. However, certain clients may receive more favorable rates due to the volume of work for which they retain the attorney. Those attorneys who work for insurance companies and large corporations often negotiate more favorable rates with those companies.
The Time and Cost of Civil Cases
Typically, a case takes from 200 to 500 hours from start to finish, resulting in total fees that could approximate $50,000 to $250,000 for the attorney’s time even before taking the case to trial. In addition, there are the costs that must be borne by the client for depositions, transcripts, court reporters, experts, and the like. These costs can easily add another $5,000- $10,000 to the attorney’s fees.
Most people either do not have the money to pay a lawyer in this manner or it would drain their savings and retirement accounts, damaging the rest of their lives and sacrificing their golden years. Often, when the only option for redress if an injury is to hire an attorney on an hourly basis, the injured person is financially unable to do so, and is therefore prohibited from having access to the legal process to seek a remedy.
While not available for every type of case, the other way in which a wronged party may be able to obtain the “keys to the courthouse” is to hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis. Under a contingency fee agreement, the lawyer is paid a percentage of the recovered proceeds when the case is resolved. The lawyer also agrees to pay all costs associated with the case, but will be reimbursed for those costs, in addition to the attorney’s fee, upon favorable resolution of the case.
The Contingency Fee Method
The contingency fee method allows ordinary people to be able to hire a lawyer and have their grievances (wrongs against them) addressed in a court of law without being unduly burdened financially. The benefit to the contingency fee agreement is obvious. A person does not have to be rich or powerful, does not have to burden their family or drain their bank accounts, life savings, or retirement accounts in order to address wrongs that have been imposed on them. Approximately 60% to 70% of all court cases in the United States are handled under contingency fee agreements.
In Florida, the contingency fee percentages for a single incident are set by law and are usually 33 1/3% before a lawsuit is filed, and 40% if a Complaint is filed, which begins the lawsuit, and the Complaint answered by the Defendant. On different types of cases, such as mass torts, that percentage could be higher or lower depending on the case, the value of the case, and the volume. However, for a single incident — including injuries — it is universal in Florida that the lawyer will be reimbursed 33 1/3% pre-suit and 40% after the suit is filed. Attorneys need to be reimbursed for the case costs, which they advance on the client’s behalf, as the costs are for only that particular case.
This is in contrast to cases, such as mass torts, where an attorney may be representing as many as 500 clients or more, but many of the costs associated with each of these cases is the same. For example, the cost associated with discovery (that is, depositions and other information that is obtained in the course of litigation) comes from the same source for each case. Examples of these types of cases include: Defective medical products, pharmaceutical liability cases, BP oil spill cases, and LIBOR manipulation cases.
In these types of cases, 90% of the discovery comes from the same source, and can be used repeatedly in case after case. The majority of single incident cases filed in the United States that have a contingency fee basis are auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, slip and fall, trip and fall, wrongful death cases, nursing home abuse cases, and medical malpractice cases.
The right to have access to the “keys to the courthouse” is one of the most valuable rights that we have in our country, and should be guarded with every fiber of our beings. At Christopher Ligori & Associates we do everything we can to fight for our clients’ rights aggressively, but ethically, with great vigor and tenacity. We take pride in the fact that our lawyers speak at programs in many states around the country regarding trial strategy, legal skills, and many other topics that are relevant and useful to our clients. We consider it the highest honor to be asked by our colleagues to educate them and share our experiences. Please feel free to call us at any time for help with your injury claims at 877-444-2929.