The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled in the Orlando negligent security lawsuit of Anderson v. Hilton Hotel that plaintiff is entitled to have his attorney’s fees covered, per F.S. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442.
Plaintiff’s victory comes after he won $1.7 million in damages from four different defendants, though three of those were characterized as a single entity during trial. It was this issue that complicated the matter of whether plaintiff was entitled to attorney fees.
Normally, personal injury plaintiffs do not pay attorney fees upfront. Instead, lawyers offer services on a contingency fee basis, which means clients pay nothing upfront and agree to sign over a portion of their damage awards if they win (usually somewhere around 30 percent, though it varies depending on the facts/ complexity of the case). This type of agreement allows more meritorious civil actions to make their way into court, rather than creating an impossible bar for persons with limited means. However, there are situations in which the other side can be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees to the winner. For a plaintiff, this occurs when a reasonable settlement offer is made, not accepted within 30 days and then plaintiff wins the case, being awarded in excess of 25 percent of that original offer. Continue reading →