Orlando's personal injury attorneys very often use a legal instrument
called a Contingent Fee Agreement (CFA) when they agree to represent a
client in a case. A Contingent Fee Agreement simply means that the lawyer's fee is
contingent upon winning the case — if you don't get any money, they don't
get paid, either. Quite often, but not necessarily, the contingent fee
is a percentage of your settlement.
You have an assortment of rights regarding CFAs, and it's important
that you understand them. First, a CFA isn't final when you sign it
— you have three business days to change your mind if you reconsider.
If your lawyer did any actual work for you during those three days, you
owe them for that work, but if they didn't, you're off scot-free.
Once you've hired a lawyer, that lawyer may not withdraw from your
case without written notice and without giving you time to hire a new
lawyer. If your lawyer withdraws from the case, you owe them nothing;
if you discharge your lawyer without good cause, you may end up owing
them for the time they spent on your case even if you do not go on to
win your case.
You have the right to know exactly who will be working on your case. Often
lawyers work in groups with other lawyers, and they pass cases back and
forth between them. This is perfectly legal, but they need to inform you
before the case begins that this may happen. If you have lawyers from
multiple firms working on your case, at least one lawyer from each firm
must sign your CFA.
During the trial, your lawyers must communicate to you all offers of settlement
made by opposing council. Your lawyer may confer and advise you regarding
these offers, but you alone have the final decision on whether to accept
the offer or not.
Before you pay any money on a CFA, you have the right to receive a full
accounting of what money the lawyer has spent on your case. The statement
must list all of the financial details of your case, including the precise
amount recovered, all expenses, and a detailing of the legal fees. Until
you approve the closing statement, your lawyer cannot pay anyone —
including you — without an appropriate court order. Every lawyer
that worked on your case must sign the closing statement.
The personal injury attorneys of Orlando are all very familiar with the
process of forming and executing a Contingent Fee Agreement — but
it's still your responsibility to know what your rights are and watch
out for yourself.