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Why does an attorney fee get deducted from my settlement or award?

We understand this question.  Everyone is trying to net the most they can from their settlement or award.  The short answer is that it is the only way that an attorney can get paid usually is by the contingency method.  Many people of means with money cannot afford to pay for an attorney to represent them on an hourly basis.  If this contingency method were not allowed, then it would very well close the doors to the members of society that are not rich.  

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Now, that said, in some less common instances, you may not have to pay.  First, this article is not about situations where you hire us to sue an insurance company that didn’t pay what they were contractually required to under the insurance contract.  In those cases, if you win, the law itself provides that the Defendant insurance company has to pay your lawyer.  This is about when someone hurts you and you hire us as your personal injury lawyer to recover money for your pain, suffering, etc. and we file a lawsuit. 

Now, in a case against someone who hurt you, we charge a contingency fee as set forth in our contract which we can send to you if you call.  In your case, we can issue a “proposal for settlement”.  This means that we make an official propsoal to the Defendant.  Statute 768.79 provides that if you make a formal proposal to settle a case to a Defendant that is lawful, and you proceed to trial and recover 25% more than the amount that you proposed to settle for, then the Defendant would be responsible for your attorney’s fees and costs. 

You can see the complete statute by simply clicking on the following link:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.79.html

As you can see, the statute goes both ways.  But, it can be a very effective tool to get the Defendant to pay your attorney’s fees post trial.  However, it is important to note that this statute can be used against a Plaintiff who could be liable for attorney’s fees and costs following a loss or verdict that is 25% less than the offer made by the Defendant. 

Then, if we prevail at trial for you and the judgment was 25% more than the proposal, as a matter of our agreement with you and as required by law, we agree to offset the amount of attorney’s fees awarded by the Court against any contingency percentage that would be deducted from the judgment obtained.  Now, when the fee awarded by the Court exceeds the contingency, you no longer have to pay us an attorney’s fee at all.  We then recover the full amount of the fees awarded by the Court, and you would be entitled to your judgment less an medical bills or other liens that must be paid by law. 

We will spell this out in our agreement with you.  However, remember that this only happens after a trial and is not a commonplace occurrence.  Rather, it is rare. 

Give us a call to discuss if you have any questions. (305) 285-1115