The Florida Bar
OPINION 87-4A lawyer may offer personal injury clients a choice between two contingent fee contracts with differing percentage fees depending on whether the client or the lawyer assumes responsibility for submitting the client's medical bills for payment. Neither percentage may exceed the ceilings imposed by the Florida Supreme Court.
May 1, 1987
May 1, 1987
Prior to the Florida Supreme Court's adoption of the rules and fee schedule set forth in Rule 4-1.5(D), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, concerning contingency fee contracts, the inquiring attorney routinely used two different contingency fee employment contracts in his practice. His "standard" contingency fee contract provided that he would receive a certain percentage of any recovery if a recovery was obtained. Apparently this contract did not provide that the firm would handle the submission of the client's medical bills to the insurance carrier for payment.
The attorney's alternative contingency fee contract did provide that he would handle submission of the client's medical bills to the appropriate insurance carrier for payment. This alternative contract also provided that the attorney's percentage of the recovery, if any, would be higher than the percentage charged in the "standard" contract. The inquiring attorney states that the differing contingency fee amounts charged in the two contracts were offered to clients in an attempt to persuade clients to handle their own submission of medical bills.
The attorney asks whether this practice is permissible under Rule 4-1.5(D).
It appears that the practice of offering to clients two different contingency fee contracts, in which the percentage of recovery charged by the attorney differs according to whether the attorney agrees to handle submission of the client's medical bills for payment, is not impermissible if each contract complies with the rules and fee schedule governing contingency fee contracts set forth in Rule 4-1.5(D). In other words, an attorney may charge a higher contingency fee if he agrees to handle submission of a client's medical bills to an insurer for payment than if he does not so agree; however, this higher contingency fee must still comply with the provisions of Rule 4-1.5(D).