Can I Be Held Responsible for all the Attorney’s Fees in a Lawsuit?

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to reduce how much they pay to injured people who suffered those injuries through no fault of their own. Lately our experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley have seen the increased use of a procedural mechanism available to the parties in Florida lawsuits called a Proposal for Settlement. This is a mechanism by which one party can make a settlement offer to another party to a lawsuit and, if the party to whom the offer is made rejects that offer, but then either does not prevail at trial or prevails, but for a lesser amount than what was offered, then that party owes the other party its attorney’s fees.

Florida Law Relating to Attorney’s Fees

Florida operates under something known as the American rule, pursuant to which each side to a lawsuit is responsible for paying his or her own attorney’s fees, win or lose. This is a contrast to the United Kingdom, where the winning party in a lawsuit typically recovers its attorney’s fees from the losing party. While some cases, like a breach of contract case between two parties in which there is a provision in the contract that allows for an award of attorney’s fees to the winning party, carry with them a right to obtain attorney’s fees if you win, this is rare. The norm is that each party bears its own fees.

This is especially true in personal injury cases, which are typically brought as negligence claims. Those do not carry with them any right to attorney’s fees for either side, so each party will be responsible for paying its own attorney, win, lose or settle.

Should I Be Worried if the Other Side Serves a Proposal for Settlement in My Case?

The answer is almost always no. Although these are becoming increasingly common as insurers and defendants try to shift the risk associated with a lawsuit to the injured party, it is almost always a bluff. Insurers rarely will make an offer high enough they think the injured party will accept it. The whole reason to use a proposal for settlement is to make the other side in a lawsuit worry about being exposed to the other side’s attorney’s fees, but the insurer must make an offer that there is an actual chance that you will accept. However, this is unlikely given insurers will rarely do so until their back is against the wall, such as right before trial is set to begin. Therefore, if your case is worth $100,000 on your worst day and the insurance company for the other side serves a proposal for settlement to you of $40,000, there is little for you to worry about. There is very little risk you would ever be exposed to the other side’s attorney’s fees given the offer made by the insurer pursuant to a proposal for settlement was so low.

Contact Schwed, Adams and McGinley, P.A.

At Schwed, Adams and McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 200 years of experience representing individuals who have been injured by someone else’s negligence. During that time, we have developed a very good sense as to how to value a case and we will speak with each and every client about what we see as the value of that client’s case to be. This is particularly important when the defense serves a proposal for settlement and you need to evaluate whether there is a chance you may be exposed to the other side’s attorney’s fees. If you have been injured and need representation by an experienced Florida personal injury attorney, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams and McGinley, P.A. today at  877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com to schedule a free consultation regarding your situation.