We have all been victims of empty advertising promises, regardless of the industry. From retail sales to the services industry (including personal injury attorneys who handle auto accident claims), businesses proclaim such things as “Satisfaction Guaranteed” or “We Treat You Like Family.” So, you decide to do hire a business, only to think to yourself a month later, “The owner of this company must have a very dysfunctional family if this is the way he treats them.”
The crux of it is simply this: Promises from a business are cheap. If you have been injured in an automobile accident here in New Port Richey or throughout the Tampa Bay area and the rest of Florida, you are likely aware from all of the TV ads that personal injury auto accident attorneys like me and my partner work on what’s called a “contingency fee agreement.” This simply means that our fee is strictly contingent on the recovery of a settlement or favorable verdict. The client pays nothing unless funds are collected, and then it’s typically a one-third fee. This is very good public policy given that many people could not pay an hourly fee to a law firm, not to mention bankrolling the costs. It allows injured auto accident victims that we meet within our New Port Richey office to pay nothing until the case is resolved, and that also means that during the case we advance all costs.
What happens if you hire a personal injury auto accident attorney and a month or two later you have run out of patience because calls are not returned, or you’re not kept informed? You can fire the attorney and hire a new law firm, but your former attorney can then place a lien on your case and claim an hourly fee when your case is resolved by the new injury law firm. That could leave you paying a contingency fee to your new attorney and having to worry about an hourly fee from the first attorney that performed poorly.
How long do I have to fire my attorney?
This raises the question: How long do I have to fire my attorney, without him or her placing a lien on my case, if I don’t think he or she is doing a good job? The answer is found in the Florida Rules (Rule 4-1.5), which mandates the language in a contingency fee contract and states in part:
“This contract may be cancelled by written notification to the attorney at any time within 3 business days of the date the contract was signed, as shown below, and if cancelled the client shall not be obligated to pay any fees to the attorney for the work performed during that time. If the attorney has advanced funds to others in the representation of the client, the attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for such amounts as the attorney has reasonably advanced on behalf of the client.”
Frankly, my partner and I don’t think such a short time window is sufficient, but I have never heard of a law firm extending that time. How can you, the injured car accident victim, know that your attorney is fulfilling the promise of “aggressive representation” or “we’ll keep you informed” after only 3 business days? You can’t because anyone can do a good job for 3 days!
At McPherson & Thomas, P.A.
We make several promises as well, including that we’ll aggressively pursue your rights, we’ll take your case all the way to a jury trial if that’s required, and we’ll keep you informed. However, where we differ is we back up our promises by expanding the time that a client can terminate our services and pay zero fees to us (no lien against your case for fees) twentyfold to 60 days. It is right on our website. By expanding a client’s right to cancel the contingency fee agreement to 60 days, should give ample time for a new client to get to know us, and more importantly to feel comfortable knowing he or she made the right choice. For more details on this policy, click here to be directed to more information.
A client should have an attorney that he or she has confidence in. In fact, trust and confidence between a client and attorney are paramount. We hope this policy provides peace of mind to clients who decide to hire us for their injury claims.