Is my lawyer charging too much?

by Gloria
(St Petersburg, FL)

I was in a hit and run accident, and not understanding the Florida no-fault laws and uninsured motorist coverage, I sought the help of an attorney. My insurance paid for the loss of my vehicle and 60% of lost wages, and made no mention of compensation for personal injuries I sustained.

I was told I was limited to $10,000 on medical because of the Florida No-Fault. My hospital bills for a 3 day admission was $49,557. The $10,000 is already exhausted. My insurance company paid $5,812 to the hospital and my health insurance has paid nothing.

My attorney has already received a check for my injuries in the sum of $50,000 from my auto insurance company. He wants to give me $22,535 and charge me for filing my claim $15000 because I signed a contingency contract. But there was no case to fight?!? He wants to keep the remaining balance in a trust for possible pending medical charges.

I refused to sign the check. I feel that $15,000 is too much for simply filing a claim. What's your take? What is appropriate compensation for a case like this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is my lawyer charging too much?":

Gloria (St Petersburg, FL):

Florida Title XXXVII Section 627.736 is the controlling statute covering Florida No Fault laws. Under Florida's no-fault, drivers involved in car accidents must turn to their own insurance company to pay for medical and therapy bills, out of pocket expenses, and lost wages.

Under Florida ,drivers are required to carry the following minimum amounts of insurance coverage:

- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits

From what you say, your attorney represented you under a contingency fee contract, which you signed. You are bound by that contract. A typical contingency fee for representation in a personal injury action is 33% of the final settlement amount.

In most cases, a contingency fee agreement means an attorney will not charge a client any legal fees or costs until, and unless the attorney settles the client's injury claim or succeeds in trial. If, after representing a client in an injury claim the attorney is not successful, the attorney receives nothing for his or her efforts.

In your case, it is apparent you signed a contingency fee agreement at the time you engaged the attorney’s services. Before signing the agreement you surely had an opportunity to read it.

At that time you should have asked your attorney any questions you had about his or her legal fees. If so, you could have either negotiated a lower fee, or decided to retain a different attorney.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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