Car Accident Lawyer
Clients who pursue legal claims often have a hard time understanding the fees they are being charged. Many lawyers charge their clients by the hour. However, most personal injury attorneys do not bill by the hour. Instead, they work on a contingency fee, which means that the lawyer only gets paid if and when the client receives a settlement either before or after a trial.
Many clients ask if the defendant or their insurance company will pay their attorney’s fee. Unfortunately, the other side will almost never agree to that, which leaves you with having to pay your attorney. Fortunately, there are Florida laws which can help you shift some of your attorney’s fee to the defendant in the event you prevail.
These laws relate to Proposals for settlement (PFS). A PFS is governed by Florida Statute 768.79 and Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.442. The PFS can be a powerful tool to put pressure on the opposition to settle a case. Essentially, a PFS can award attorneys’ fees and costs for a party that offered to settle a case prior to trial for a reasonable amount.
Under Florida Statute 768.79 and Rule 1.442, if the Plaintiff files a Proposal for Settlement that the Defendant does not accept and pay, and a jury ultimately awards you a verdict that exceeds the offer by 25% or more, then the Defendant is responsible for all of the Plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and costs from the date the Proposal was made. For example, if you serve a Proposal to settle your case for $100,000.00, the Defendant does not pay it, and a jury awards you $125,000.00 or more, then your attorney’s fees will be paid by the Defendant for the time your lawyer spent on the case from the date of the Proposal through trial.
Of course, a Defendant can also serve a PFS to put pressure on a Plaintiff. If the Defendant offers to settle and there is a defense verdict or the verdict is less than seventy-five percent of the PFS, then the Plaintiff is responsible for the Defendant’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Parties have thirty days from receipt of the PFS to either accept or reject it.
The PFS statute and rule contain very specific requirements as to the precise language that must be included in the PFS and how it is to be served. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of serving a PFS. Additionally, there is now PFS insurance which a party can buy in order to protect themselves in the event they lose the case and have to pay the other parties’ attorneys’ fees.
Call Jeff Murphy Law, an auto accident lawyer in Tampa, FL, for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights with respect to a trial and a PFS.
Thank you to Jeff Murphy Law, for their input into legal settlements in Florida.