A fixed fee for the task performed. The lawyer and client agree beforehand on the job to be done and the price to be paid. Once agreed, that’s it. If the lawyer goes over his or her "time budget," that’s just too bad. But the reverse is not necessarily true. If a New York lawyer takes a large fixed fee and ends up doing little work, sometimes the courts will step in to make the attorney give back part of the fee. This is because courts are sensitive to lawyers taking advantage of clients, and a judge may feel that the attorney knew ahead of time that there might be a quick result. And courts tend to protect clients from overreaching by lawyers.
A lawyer and client may agree to an hourly rate. The two sides come up with a price per hour and pays after the lawyer sends a detailed bill, setting out the work done and the time spent on each task. The client is also responsible for the lawyer’s costs and disbursements, which may include photocopying, court filing fees investigation, hiring an expert and so forth.
Almost all New York personal injury and accident cases are handled by the lawyer on a contingent fee basis. This means that the attorney collects a percentage of the amount recovered for the client. If the attorney doesn’t win, the client doesn’t pay. In New York State, accident cases are usually handled for a fee of one-third (or 33 %). For example, if the attorney recovers $30,000, the client would get $20,000 and the lawyer $10,000.
The one-third contingency fee is not, however, carved in stone. And while an attorney may charge less, he or she can’t charge more. An exception is where the attorney uses a "sliding scale," contingency fee, where the percentage paid reduces as the amount recovered increases. A sliding scale is most common in New York medical malpractice lawsuits.
There are two more considerations where an attorney is hired for a contingent fee. FIRST: the client is responsible for costs and disbursements, for expenses associated with the case, even if the case loses. Costs and disbursements are generally deducted off the top of the amount recovered, before the – split. SECOND: liens are usually deducted from the client’s portion of the case recovery, after the – split. Liens are generally for bills from medical providers that are willing to wait to be paid, and also share the risk of not being paid if the case loses. For the client that needs medical treatment and has no insurance or money to pay for ongoing medical care, a doctor that takes a lien can be a blessing, indeed.
While the contingency fee may seem like a great deal for the attorney, there are cases that are lost, so that over time, it usually evens out. The contingent fee allows an injured or hurt accident victim to hire the best counsel available, where the accident victim might not otherwise be able to afford experienced legal counsel. The attorney advances the expenses for pursuing the accident claim, and the client can save his or her money for living expenses and such. And the lawyer takes on the risk of losing.
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At Gary E. Rosenberg, P.C., our New York City (Queens and Bronx) serious personal injury lawyers are experienced in representing clients who have been hurt in all kinds of accidents. For your serious personal injury, you need legal representation from a qualified personal injury attorney.
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