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How can I afford an attorney following an accident or injury? - New York Injury Law Show Episode 2

Posted by Scott M. Peterson | Oct 24, 2018

Today, we're going to talk about fees and how it is that you can have an attorney represent you in an injury case and how that attorney can be paid and what that means for you.

Now, if you ever looked or watched the tv or listen to the radio, you've heard probably all kinds of attorney advertisements for, you know, “we don't get paid until we collect for you.”  What that really is saying is that most attorneys who handle injury cases handle them on what's known as a contingency fee basis. What that means is that you as the injured person or as the representative of an injured party, won't really have to lay out a significant amount of money in order to have your case pursued. Most injury attorneys do not handle these cases by the hour. What they do instead is that they handle them on a contingency fee arrangement. A typical contingency fee in New York is one-third of any recovery, and what that means is that if there is a lawsuit or if there is a claim, the attorney's fee would not be paid by the hour and would simply be a percentage, again generally one-third, of whatever recovery they obtain for the injured person.

Now, from the injured person or the family's perspective, that does a couple of things: one is that it ensures that you are not spending a lot of money out of pocket to pursue a claim for compensation that you're entitled to.  This can be really helpful in situations where the injured person provides economic support for the family, or where there are expensive medical bills and the last thing the family can do is afford to pay a lawyer. 

This arrangement also allows you to have peace of mind of knowing that “hey, you know, if I reach out to my attorney, if I send them an email or if I call them, I'm not going to get a bill for a half-hour's time, every time I need to have a question answered.” And what it does in the law firm is that it allows the firm to move forward with the case, put as much time as necessary in pursuing that case, and do so in a way that does not require the to  charge all kinds of money to the client.  Now, practically, that means that sometimes the injured person will end up paying a third of the settlement for a quick resolution. The flipside to this is that many times in order to get the best resolution, the case cannot be resolved early on and will require quite a bit of work. Quite a bit of legal maneuvering.

The cases that we often handle are complex and they involve significant injuries often in complicated circumstances. And because of that, the cases often go to the brink of trial and occasionally, through trial. What that means is that we're putting a lot of time into the case and because of that, the one-third fee ends up being often a very fair form of compensation, and occasionally less than what we actually have put into the case.  But that's okay, because it's a risk that we, as a firm, take when we accept the case. It allows you, again, the client, to be aware and be comfortable with the fact that you're not going to be paying out of pocket the entire time.

So, hopefully this answers the question of how it is that attorneys get paid in injury cases. If you have questions about it or if you would like to have your case reviewed for free, fill out the contact form on this page. We're happy to help. 

About the Author

Scott M. Peterson

Scott M. Peterson is the founding partner of D'Orazio Peterson, having left a partnership at a large regional law firm to limit his practice and focus on helping people protect their families.

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