North Tampa Attorneys Dedicated to Serving Accident Victims
If you have been injured in a car crash or another accident, you may be wondering whether you can afford to hire an attorney to assist you with your case. Since we understand that someone who has been hurt in an accident may not be able pay attorney fees up front, Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC accepts most cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this arrangement, our injury lawyers collect our legal fees from clients in North Tampa and the surrounding area as a percentage of a settlement or judgment when the case is concluded in their favor.
The “American Rule” and How It Affects Negligence Cases
Motor vehicle accidents, premises liability cases, and other personal injury claims fall under the umbrella of “negligence” law. In these types of lawsuits, a claimant must prove that he or she was owed a legal duty by the defendant, that the defendant breached that duty, that the victim was injured as a direct result, and that he or she sustained actual damages. A person who can meet this four-prong test can potentially recover money damages to compensate him or her for items like medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Under the so-called “American Rule,” a successful claimant pays his or her own attorney fees, as does the defendant. When an attorney accepts a case on a contingency fee basis, the attorney collects his or her fee from the settlement or judgment when the case is concluded. Expenses associated with the case are also deducted at that time.
Fee-Shifting Requirements under Florida Settlement Rule 1.442
Generally, the state of Florida follows the “American rule,” meaning that each party in a civil lawsuit is responsible for his or her own attorney fees regardless of the outcome of the case. There is an important, albeit limited, exception to this general rule, however. Under Florida Statutes § 768.79 and Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.442, there is a possibility of shifting a portion of a winning party’s attorney fees and costs to the losing party in some cases.
To fall under Rule 1.442, sometimes called the “Florida Settlement Rule,” several requirements must be met. A party seeking to enforce the rule must try his or her case in front of a jury and receive a verdict in his or her favor. The successful litigant must have, at least 45 days prior to trial, tendered a detailed, written proposed settlement offer to the party against whom the verdict was rendered. Finally, there must have been at least a 25% difference between the settlement offer and the jury’s verdict.
When all of the conditions listed above are met, the successful litigant can be awarded attorney fees and other costs associated with preparing the case for trial. The party is not entitled to any attorney fees that were incurred prior to the settlement offer. Of course, the amount due will vary from case to case, depending upon when the offer was made and how much additional work it took to get the case ready for trial. Ultimately, it is up to the trial court to decide whether a particular case qualifies for the fee-shifting provisions of the Florida Settlement Rule and, if so, the amount of attorney fees and costs to be awarded.
The Florida Settlement Rule can potentially be a factor in convincing a defendant who would otherwise attempt to low-ball a case to make a reasonable offer so as not to risk paying part of the claimant’s fees and costs later on.
Consult a Compassionate Spring Hill Lawyer after an Accident
Enlisting a lawyer is both possible and affordable for victims of car accidents or other negligent conduct in Spring Hill and throughout Florida. The knowledgeable attorneys at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC represent individuals in New Tampa, Brooksville, and Lutz, as well as in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus Counties. We will be glad to review your case at no charge. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 866-597-0009 or use the contact form on this website.