Every personal injury lawyer in New York sets his or her own fees—and fee structures vary depending on the type of law an attorney practices. Some lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, while others charge an hourly rate for any work they do on your case.
If you find a lawyer that will accept your case on a contingency basis, you will pay no legal fees or expenses until you receive a settlement. At that time, your lawyer will deduct a pre-established percentage from the net settlement—after first deducting any agreed-upon expenses.
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our personal injury attorneys handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. To schedule a free case evaluation, call 631-600-0000 today.
Do I Have to Pay to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Technically, you do not have to pay a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis.
Many New York personal injury attorneys will help you win your case without ever paying out of your own pocket. That is because the lawyer’s fees come out of the settlement you receive after your case concludes.
When you choose a law firm to represent you, your attorney will begin assembling all of the evidence necessary to document your claim. After submitting your claim to the insurance company, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Once the settlement check arrives, your lawyer will deduct the firm’s expenses and agreed-upon fee and send you the remaining settlement.
This approach makes it possible for many people who could not otherwise afford a lawyer to pursue a fair settlement after another party’s negligence causes injuries. It also encourages lawyers to pursue valid cases to the best of their ability, since they will not receive any compensation if they lose.
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Structure Their Fees?
Most lawyers base their contingency fee structure on a percentage. For example, your lawyer may charge 30 percent for a case that settles out of court and slightly more if your case goes to trial. Many lawyers use a two-tiered fee structure because a trial often requires significantly more time and resources than an out-of-court settlement.
New York law imposes statutory limits on legal fees for some types of practices, including personal injury cases taken on a contingency fee basis. Attorneys must put all fee agreements in writing—typically in the form of a retainer agreement—and both the client and the firm must sign.
To charge on a contingency fee basis, the statutes require personal injury lawyers to use a sliding fee scale that reduces the fee percentage as the dollar amount of the award goes up. The statutory guidelines are as follows:
- 30 percent of the first $250,000;
- 25 percent of the next $250,000;
- 20 percent of the next $500,000;
- 15 percent of the next $250,000; and
- 10 percent of anything over $1,250,000.
For example, if your settlement amount after expenses is $850,000, your law firm would calculate their fee thusly:
- 30 percent of $250,000, or $75,000;
- 25 percent of $250,000, or $62,500; and
- 20 percent of $350,000, or $70,000.
In this case, your attorney’s fees would total $207,500 and you would take home $642,500 as your settlement.
What Type of Expenses Come out of My Settlement?
Attorneys can only take their fee percentage from the net amount of the settlement after deducting any allowable expenses.
Some of the most common expenses that your lawyer may charge you include:
- Travel expenses;
- Court costs and filing fees;
- The cost of obtaining certified copies of records;
- Shipping, mailing, and copying costs;
- Professional services expenses; and
- Payments to subject matter experts and investigators.
Your legal firm should include a detailed breakdown of the types of expenses you must pay in the retainer agreement. Once your law firm deducts expenses from the gross settlement, they will subtract their fee and issue your settlement.
How Much Will My Settlement Be After My Lawyer’s Costs?
The exact amount of your settlement will depend on the factors of your case, the amount of your claim, and what the insurance company agreed to pay. However, you can calculate the approximate value of your settlement based on the amount of your claim, which will include some or all of these damages:
- All medical expenses and care costs to date;
- Lost wages and benefits to date;
- Estimated future medical and care costs;
- Estimated future lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- The value of any permanent injury or disfigurement; and
- Property damage.
Once your lawyer determines the value of your claim, they can calculate the contingency fees and deduct it from the total to arrive at your estimated payout.
How Can I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer—for Free?
In New York, the personal injury lawyers of Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., understand how important it is for our clients to have access to affordable legal representation. That is why we offer our services on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing until we win your case. Call us at 631-600-0000 to discuss your case today.