A bike accident in Florida could leave you with mounds of medical bills and no way to pay them. You probably need treatment or physical therapy to work, but you may be facing financial challenges from missed work.
If another driver is responsible for your injuries, you can pursue an injury claim against the at-fault driver and their insurer. If you succeed in your claim, you can recover compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. This will often put you in a financial position to focus on your health instead of worrying about money.
Read on to learn how much you will pay for a bike accident lawyer in Florida.
What Bike Accident Lawyers Do
Florida uses a no-fault system of auto insurance. When drivers buy auto insurance in Florida, they must buy two primary forms of insurance:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) covers the driver’s injuries
- Property damage liability (PDL) covers damage to someone else’s property
Bodily Injury liability (BIL), which covers injuries to someone else is optional.
PIP is the no-fault part of the policy. It pays the driver’s medical bills and income losses after an accident. The driver’s insurer pays these benefits without looking at who caused the accident, hence “no-fault.”
But bicyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance. Instead, bicyclists must pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage, if they have any.
Before paying claims under BIL coverage, the driver’s insurer will look at who caused the accident. BIL coverage only covers injuries/accidents caused by the policyholder. If anyone else, including the cyclist, caused the accident, the driver does not bear liability for the accident, and the insurer will not pay any claims.
Bike accident lawyers assemble the evidence and attempt to prove liability and win your BIL claim. If an insurer does not pay the claim, a bike accident lawyer can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. At trial, the bike accident lawyer will try to persuade a jury to award you damages against the at-fault driver and the insurer.
How Bike Accident Lawyers Charge for Legal Services
Private lawyers charge for legal services. Be wary of any lawyer who implies they will represent you for free. They probably charge a contingency fee and use a very loose definition of free.
Most personal injury lawyers in Florida charge a contingency fee. As its name suggests, the amount of this fee is contingent on the outcome obtained by the lawyer.
If your lawyer gets nothing for you in your case, you pay nothing for the lawyer’s services. But if the lawyer wins or settles your case, you will pay a percentage of your settlement or damage award to the lawyer as a legal fee.
A typical contingency fee falls between 30% and 40%. If a lawyer quotes a 35% contingency fee, you will pay 35% of your compensation to the lawyer at the end of the case.
This type of fee has several benefits for accident victims:
No Upfront Fees
Since the fee gets calculated based on the outcome obtained, the lawyer will start your case without requiring any money upfront. This allows you to save money for medical treatment and living expenses instead of spending it on lawyers.
No Charge for a Loss
35% of zero is zero. If the lawyer fails to recover anything for you, you will owe no legal fees.
Incentives for the Lawyer
Since the contingency fee is calculated from the final recovery, your lawyer has the incentive to maximize the amount of money you receive.
What a Contingency Fee Covers
In Florida, the Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to provide clients with a written contingency fee agreement. This fee agreement will explain what your contingency fee covers.
Every lawyer and law firm handles contingency fees differently. But in most cases, a contingency fee will cover the following:
- Communications and meetings between you and the lawyer
- Gathering records and evidence about your accident
- Preparing and filing the insurance claim
- Negotiating with the insurer to settle your claim
- Drafting and filing a lawsuit if your case does not settle
- Preparing for trial with discovery and motions
- Trying the case before a jury
If your lawyer wins or settles your case, the payment will go to your lawyer’s office. Your lawyer will deduct the contingency fee and send your share of the settlement or damage award to you.
What a Contingency Fee Does Not Cover
Contingency fees usually do not cover certain expenses. Again, the contingency fee agreement will list the expenses that will fall on you. The fee agreement will also explain how and when you will pay these expenses.
Some litigation expenses that a lawyer may charge you in addition to the contingency fee include the following:
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
- Court filing fees
During the case, the lawyer will front money to pay these types of litigation expenses. This ensures your case stays on track. But at the end of the case, you must reimburse the lawyer for the expenses incurred on your behalf.
In most cases, the lawyer will generate a billing statement at the end of the case listing all the litigation expenses. The lawyer will deduct the litigation expenses from your settlement or damage award along with the legal fee.
Hiring a Bike Accident Lawyer in Florida
When you meet with lawyers for your free consultation, ask about fees. You want to reduce the risk of misunderstandings about how much the lawyer costs. Ask questions about the lawyer’s charges until you fully understand the lawyer’s fee structure.
If you choose to hire a lawyer for your bike accident, ask the lawyer for a copy of the lawyer’s fee agreement. Read the agreement carefully and ask any questions you have about its terms. If you do not understand the lawyer’s answers, you should consider hiring a different lawyer.
Once you understand and agree with the terms of engagement, you will sign the fee agreement and return it to the lawyer. In a contingency fee case, the lawyer will start work upon receiving your signed agreement.
Contingency fees provide many benefits to clients. When you hire a lawyer on a contingency fee, you know that the lawyer will work hard to get you the best outcome possible.