Legal Question: My car accident case caused me and my wife to have to have cervical surgery. We are here with over 300K in medical bills now. We went to mediation recently and our attorney was severely underprepared for the process. We received and offer of 10K which we turned down and the last offer was 25K. We discussed with him the case value after receiving such horrible offers and we are not in agreement. Upon speaking with two another attorneys they were shocked with what the current attorney was seeking. If we continue with him everyone will get paid and there will be nothing left for us – not even to pay for the totaled car.
Terence’s Response: You are free to dismiss him and seek other representation. In Florida, his fees are protected to some degree. There are two methods utilized. First, if there has been an offer, then the fee is essentially earned even though the offer has not been accepted. This means under this formula, presuming a suit has not been filed, he would have a fee lien on the $25,000 offered of $8,333 plus his costs to date. Another approach is based on the doctrine of Quantom Meruit. He would have to make a showing of the time he spent on the case times a reasonable rate for his time per hour. Most plaintiff attorneys do not keep time records presuit and would just ask for one-third of the last offer. Your new attorney could negotiate for you. You would not be paying both lawyers since any fee owed the first lawyer should be deducted from the second lawyer’s fees.
– Terence A. Gross