When considering whether or not to hire an attorney to handle a car accident claim or any other type of personal injury claim, people often worry about attorney’s fees. Personal injury attorneys typically handle claims on a contingency basis, meaning that they only get paid if they obtain compensation for their client. When that happens, they get a percentage of the recovery. But who pays that percentage?
The Loser Pays The Winner’s Attorney’s Fees
Florida has a fee shifting law that can be used to force the loser of a civil case to pay the winner’s attorney fees. Florida statute § 768.79 states, “If a plaintiff files a demand for judgment which is not accepted by the defendant within 30 days and the plaintiff recovers a judgment in an amount at least 25 percent greater than the offer, she or he shall be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred from the date of the filing of the demand.”
In other words, when the victim of a car crash injury or another injury caused by an act of negligence asks the insurance company for fair compensation and the insurance company does not provide it, if the case goes to trial and the victim wins a dollar amount 25 percent or greater than the offer, the insurance company must also pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
This may require a post-judgment motion for attorney’s fees, which a skilled personal injury attorney will be able to handle.
Why Florida’s Fee Shifting Law Benefits Injury Victims
For people hurt in a car wreck or who are filing any other type of personal injury claim, the primary benefit of Florida’s fee shifting law is clear: you get to keep the entirety of your award.
There are other benefits as well. One of the key arguments in favor of fee shifting laws in Florida and elsewhere is that they encourage settlement and discourage litigation, which can be time-consuming. The hope is that the insurance company will provide fair compensation without having to go to trial, because if they go to trial they could be ordered to pay attorney’s fees for the victim.