In New York, if another person’s negligence has injured you – for instance, in a traffic collision, in a slip-an-fall incident, or in a case of medical malpractice – reach out at once for the legal help that a Bronx personal injury attorney can provide.
If negligence is the reason why you’re injured, the law entitles you to compensation for medical costs, lost income, and all other damages. If your injury temporarily or permanently disables you, you’re also entitled to compensation for future lost income or “lost earnings capacity.”
How Are Injured Negligence Victims Compensated?
However, the compensation for personal injuries doesn’t appear magically in your bank account or mailbox. To win compensation, an injury victim must prove that he or she was injured and that another person’s negligence is the reason why.
How does the personal injury process work? How can you pay a lawyer if you have unexpected medical bills and you may be out of work for weeks or even months? If you’ll keep reading, you will learn these answers and more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence.
To prove a personal injury claim, a negligence victim in New York will need the advice and services of the right New York personal injury attorney.
What is the Contingent Fee System?
Typically after being injured, a victim has unexpected medical expenses but no income because he or she is unable to return immediately to work. Many negligence victims and their families face financial hardship. How can someone in such a situation afford an attorney?
Personal injury lawyers in New York have a remedy for injury victims who face financial hardship. It’s called the “contingent” or “contingency” fee. The contingent fee system provides access to the courts for everyone, whether your financial circumstances are affluent or humble.
Under the contingent fee system, a personal injury victim – the “plaintiff” in a personal injury case – pays no attorney’s fee until and unless the attorney obtains a jury verdict or an out-of-court settlement from the negligent party – the “defendant” – on the victim’s behalf.
What Does the Contingent Fee System Ensure?
New York’s personal injury lawyers operate on the presumption that every victim of negligence, whether wealthy, poor, or in-between, deserves justice, a day in court, and the right lawyer’s advice and representation. The system ensures that every negligence victim can hire a lawyer.
Negligence victims frequently face circumstances that keep them from being able to pay an attorney “up front,” so personal injury attorneys are paid at the end of the legal process, and a lawyer’s fee is “contingent” on the lawyer’s success.
Since an average person probably cannot pay an hourly rate of $400 to $500 – or a $2,500-to-$5,000 up-front retainer – the contingency fee system is the only practical option for most injured negligence victims.
What Are the Other Advantages of Contingent Fees?
The contingent fee system provides those injured by negligence with a level playing field against a defendant – even if the defendant is a large insurance company or corporation.
This arrangement also prompts lawyers to fight aggressively and effectively for the justice and compensation that an injured negligence victim deserves. The system additionally serves to keep frivolous claims out of the courtroom so that serious claims receive the consideration they need.
What Else Will You Need to Prevail With an Injury Claim?
Nevertheless, the contingent fee system alone does not guarantee justice for every personal injury victim. Without convincing evidence that supports your claim, you probably won’t find an injury attorney who will take your case.
A personal injury claim must be thoroughly investigated and supported by persuasive evidence and testimony. If you do not have evidence, for example, your chance of succeeding with your personal injury claim – or even of finding an attorney to handle your case – is slim.
And if the party that was negligent has no insurance and cannot pay you compensation, taking legal action may not be the wise move. The right New York personal injury lawyer will advise you regarding the best way to proceed.
How Are Personal Injury Claims Resolved?
If you and your attorney agree to pursue an injury claim, the claim will probably be settled out of court. Most personal injury claims are resolved this way, and most personal injury victims do not even have to make a courtroom appearance.
But even if your case goes to trial and your lawsuit prevails, that isn’t always the end of the case. Defendants usually file an appeal when a large compensation award is ordered by a jury, or they negotiate at that point for a reduced compensation amount in return for not filing an appeal.
How is a Contingent Fee Amount Determined?
When the matter is finally resolved, the personal injury lawyer is usually paid a percentage of the total compensation amount. That percentage is determined when the attorney takes the case, and it usually ranges from about one-third to about forty percent of the compensation total.
The exact percentage a lawyer receives is negotiable, and a lawyer’s fee can go as high as forty-five percent in a personal injury case depending on what services are required and on the lawyer’s own experience and track record.
When a victim of negligence and a personal injury lawyer agree on a fee amount, the lawyer then pays “up-front” for the expenses that the case entails. Those expenses may include paying for depositions, filing fees, and additional incidental expenses.
Since most people can’t afford to pay an attorney up-front, the contingent fee arrangement offers a practical solution to the problem of paying for an attorney and accessing the justice system.
What Else is Important to Remember?
Of course, you must scrutinize thoroughly any fee agreement prior to signing it. Make sure that all of your questions have been answered and that you feel comfortable with the attorney, because you may work on the case together for up to a year or even longer.
If you’ve been injured in the New York City area, and if you are not sure whether negligence was involved, speak with an injury attorney. Do not agree to an insurance company’s initial settlement offer unless you’ve consulted first with a Bronx personal injury attorney.
Don’t let the cost of an attorney prevent you from seeking justice. Your legal rights are equal to anyone else’s. If you are injured because another person was negligent, the contingent fee system allows you to exercise your rights and seek the full compensation amount you need.