How Much Does a New York Injury Attorney Charge?
A New York injury attorney usually charges clients a contingency fee or an hourly fee (also known as an hourly rate). With a contingency fee, the accident victim agrees to pay the lawyer a percentage of any money that is recovered from the party at fault, plus expenses. With an hourly fee, you pay the lawyer for the actual time he or she works on your case, plus expenses, regardless of the case's outcome.
The total cost of hiring a New York personal injury attorney may depend on a number of factors, including:
- The specific billing arrangement
- The attorney's hourly billing rate (if he or she charges an hourly fee) or contingency fee
- Whether your case settles or goes to trial
- How much money you recover from the party at fault in your accident (if you've hired the attorney contingency)
- How much the attorney incurs in legal expenses on your behalf (however, contingency fee clients usually are not responsible for expenses if they do not receive a financial award)
Hiring a New York Injury Attorney on Contingency
Contingency fees are more commonly used in personal injury cases. A contingency fee offers accident victims several advantages. You pay no money up front, nor does the lawyer bill you while the case is in progress. Additionally, you'll pay no legal fees if you do not win a financial settlement. And because your lawyer also stands to benefit financially from a large award, he or she should be motivated to work hard on your case.
The primary disadvantage to contingency fees is that you may feel as if the lawyer did not earn his or her entire fee if your case settles quickly for a substantial sum of money.
You'll probably find that all of the New York personal injury attorneys you meet quote you the same percentage contingency fee. However, when negotiating a contingency fee, you can see if the lawyer is willing to work for a lower percentage rate than he or she originally quoted. You can also negotiate with the attorney to calculate the contingency fee based on the net award (after expenses have been deducted) and not the gross award (before expenses have been deducted). Any fee negotiations should occur before you agree to hire an attorney.
Hiring a New York Personal Injury Attorney for an Hourly Fee
When you hire an attorney for an hourly fee, you'll probably be asked to make an up-front payment, called a retainer. You will also be responsible for paying your bill on a regular basis (often monthly). You'll owe this money regardless of whether you win or lose your case.
Hourly fees are standard in many areas of the law, including divorce and corporate legal work. However, they are used infrequently in personal injury work. If you are unable to find a New York injury attorney who is willing to accept your case on contingency, this may be a sign that your case is worth very little money or has some weakness that could cause you to lose the case.
Before hiring a personal injury lawyer for an hourly fee, ask the lawyer (or several lawyers) to give you a thorough assessment of your case. What is the likelihood that you'll recover money from the party at fault? How much are you likely to recover? How much will it cost-in legal fees and expenses-to recover that money. Remember, you're making an investment when you hire an attorney for an hourly fee, and before agreeing to hire the attorney, you should be fairly confident the investment will pay off.
Understanding the Cost of a New York Injury Attorney
Before agreeing to hire a New York personal injury lawyer, make sure you fully understand how you will be paying the lawyer, how much you will be paying in expenses, and how much you can expect to receive if your case is successful.
You should ask the lawyer:
- How are you compensated? What is your hourly rate or contingency fee?
- Will I owe you any money if I do not receive a financial award? Approximately how much will I owe you?
- How much do you estimate my case is worth if it settles? If it goes to trial?
- How likely am I to win that money?
- Based on those award estimates, how much will you be paid if we settle? Go to trial?
- Approximately how much will I owe in legal expenses if we settle? Go to trial?
- How much money will I have left, after fees and expenses, if we settle? Go to trial?
Once you have a detailed understanding of the legal fees and expenses, as well as your likelihood of successfully recovering money, you'll better understand the cost of hiring a New York injury attorney.