Many people ask whether they can afford to hire an experienced lawyer to handle their personal injury. We structure our fees so there are no upfront costs and injury victims can ensure their legal rights are protected.
Several options to pay attorney fees are available but once you forfeit your legal rights they are generally lost forever. Don’t give up your legal rights because you are worried about being able to afford an attorney. Contact our personal injury attorneys as soon as possible after you or a loved one has sustained a personal injury.
the Law Offices of Sanford Rosenblum, P.C. represents victims of: car, truck and motorcycle accidents; medical malpractice; boating accidents; slip and fall injuries; bad medications; dog bites; and many other types of injuries. Trust our team and the decades of experience of their personal injury attorneys.
How Is a Lawyer Paid in a Personal Injury Case?
Most personal injury attorneys do not require accident victims to pay attorneys’ fees out of their own pockets. Instead, these cases are generally paid through a contingent fee agreement, by which a lawyer will be paid an agreed-upon portion of the total settlement. This gives the lawyer even more incentive to secure as much compensation as possible for her client. This also helps a client share the risk of loss with the attorney. If there is no award through settlement or after a trial judgment, the attorney will receive no payment.
Contingent fee agreements are also subject to litigation costs and court fees. These can include the fee to file a lawsuit, expert witness fees, copying costs for medical records, and other such expenses. It is important to know whether your attorney’s contingent fee will be calculated before or after such expenses are deducted from the total settlement amount.
Settlements can also be subject to medical liens. While many providers will accept private health insurance, some will secure their fee by filing a lien against the personal injury award. This obligates the attorney to pay the lien before distributing the settlement proceeds to the injury victim. Check with your attorney and medical providers to be sure you understand how they will be paid, what claims exist against your settlement, and if there are any other financial issues that must be addressed.
Occasionally, a personal injury lawyer will prefer to be paid through an hourly fee agreement but this is much less common. In this case, a lawyer has a set hourly rate. The client then pays the attorney a deposit and signs a contract agreeing to the rate. The attorney will send the client itemized statements of the time spent on the case. The deposit is moved from the client’s trust account as the attorney works through it. When the funds are exhausted, the attorney either requires another deposit or sends the client monthly bills to be paid. Hourly fee agreements are common in criminal defense and family law cases. In personal injury cases, however, they are rare, and contingency fee agreements are used much more often.
Setting a Reasonable Hourly Rate
If a personal injury attorney does choose to work at a set hourly rate, he is bound to set a rate that is reasonable. Attorneys who fail to do so are subject to sanctions by the state bar for this violation of ethical obligations. There is no single test for what makes a fee “reasonable”, but Rule 4-01.5 of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct define several factors for a court or ethics committee to consider. These include:
The time and labor required, the novelty, complexity, and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
The likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
The fee, or rate of fee, customarily charged in the locality for legal services of a comparable or similar nature;
The significance of, or amount involved in, the subject matter of the representation, the responsibility involved in the representation, and the results obtained;
The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances and, as between attorney and client, any additional or special time demands or requests of the attorney by the client;
The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
The experience, reputation, diligence, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the service and the skill, expertise, or efficiency of effort reflected in the actual providing of such services; and
Whether the fee is fixed or contingent, and, if fixed as to amount or rate, then whether the client’s ability to pay rested to any significant degree on the outcome of the representation. (It is worth noting that contingent fees are generally allowed to be higher than set hourly or flat fees because the attorney is bearing a risk of loss in the event that no financial award is made.)
If you are considering an hourly fee agreement with an attorney, make sure to research these issues before committing to the payment of her hourly rate. Consider speaking with other local attorneys to compare their rates. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of an hourly fee versus a contingent fee agreement. Get an estimate of how many hours of work the attorney expects to take to perform specific tasks (such as negotiating with the insurance company, drafting a complaint in the event a lawsuit must be filed, etc.).
Aggressive Representation by a New York Injury Attorney
Whether your personal injury was caused by a vehicle or a workplace accident, medical malpractice, or other factors, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who will aggressively defend your right to compensation for your losses. The the Law Offices of Sanford Rosenblum, P.C. has over 50 years of experience in protecting the rights of injury victims. Call (518) 464-0444 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Injury victims across New York trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal knowledge, and superior customer service.