This page explains everything you want to know about how much it costs to hire a personal injury lawyer in New York. We do not charge many of the legal fees and expenses listed here that some other personal injury lawyers charge! Please see our legal fees
The Quick Basics of How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?
After being injured in an accident, people often call us and ask if it costs anything upfront to hire a personal injury lawyer or if they are responsible to pay money if their case isn’t successful or they don’t get any money. The answer is no.
If you were injured in an accident in New York, never pay any upfront consultation fee, legal fee, or expenses. We’ll be happy to represent you, and you don’t need any money.
A consultation with a personal injury lawyer should be free. (We do not charge for a consultation)
Personal injury lawyers in New York charge a contingency fee which means nothing is paid upfront, and there is no legal fee owed if no money is collected.
What Percentage Do Personal Injury Lawyers Take?
The cost to hire a personal injury lawyer in New York is one-third of the personal injury settlement. It is paid only if your case is settled and is paid at the end of the case by deducting the legal fee from the settlement check.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
How much do personal injury lawyers charge in New York? The contingent legal fee is regulated by the State of New york. There are two types of contingent legal fee agreements permitted for personal injury cases and a third contingent legal fee agreement for medical malpractice cases.
The common contingent legal fee that New York personal injury lawyers typically charge is 1/3 of the gross settlement (the gross amount collected for you).
Some personal injury lawyers in New York charge a sliding scale which gives a lot more than 1/3 to the lawyer on cases settled for less than $25,000. At 1-800-HURT-911®, we always charge only 1/3, even if your personal injury settlement is less than $25,000.
Basic components of a personal injury legal fee in New York:
- Consultation: Free.
- If you hire a personal injury lawyer and obtain a settlement: The legal fee is 1/3 of the gross personal injury settlement (the total amount collected for you). The legal fee is paid at the end of the case by deducting the legal fee from the settlement check. Note: The insurance company’s settlement check must be deposited into the attorney’s escrow account called IOLA or IOLTA account. The legal fee, expenses, and your check are paid from the IOLA account.
- Case expenses are typically paid by the personal injury lawyer in advance for you. Case expenses that were advanced by the lawyer are reimbursed to the lawyer at the end of the case from your settlement check.
- If you hire a personal injury lawyer and lose your case: You pay nothing. No fee is charged, and no money is due for legal fees or case expenses if no money is collected.
This personal injury settlement calculator will tell you how much you and your lawyer will get when your personal injury case is settled.
But the similarities stop at the 1/3 personal injury legal fee. Other personal injury lawyers may charge a lot more fees, such as for your No-Fault claim, and may even charge interest on the case expenses they advance for you.
Other personal injury lawyers may charge a sliding scale which gives a lot more than 1/3 to the lawyer on cases settled for less than $25,000. We never charge a sliding scale.
We do not charge for your No-Fault claim and do not charge interest on expenses. See a list of services and expenses for an accident case that we don’t charge you for.
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Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge a Fee for a Consultation?
Personal injury lawyers in New York should not charge a fee for a consultation. If you call a lawyer in New York for a consultation, ask if the consultation is free. If the consultation is not free, call us or another personal injury lawyer.
Why is a consultation for an accident case free? Because personal injury lawyers make a lot of money with personal injury cases, and they want your case.
Any lawyer will provide a consultation by phone. We will provide consultations by phone, in person in the office, in the hospital, or at your home.
Does It Cost More Money to Change My Lawyer?
It does not cost you any more money if you want to change your personal injury lawyer.
How much do personal injury lawyers charge when you change your lawyer in New York? Your personal injury legal fee will remain the same and your new lawyer will share a part of the fee with your previous lawyer.
Find out how to change your personal injury lawyer, or just call us now at 1-800-HURT-911.
Tip: Get a free consultation from us before you fire your lawyer. Never fire your lawyer until you retain a new lawyer because you may not be able to find a new lawyer willing to take your case.
Personal Injury Legal Fees
What Is a Contingency Fee?
NO WIN NO FEE means a contingency fee which is just what you think it means! If your personal injury lawyer doesn’t get money for you, your lawyer will not charge you a legal fee. But we won’t charge you a legal fee or case expenses unless we get money for you.
At 1-800-HURT-911®, our slogan is No Win — No Fee — No Expenses — Guaranteed. That means if we don’t get money for you, we will not charge you a legal fee or case expenses, and we guarantee it!
In personal injury cases, a contingency fee is paid out of the money recovered for you, and no fee is charged if no money is recovered for you. The legal fee is contingent on a successful outcome.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines contingent (definition 4) as dependent on a condition and gives the example, “payment is contingent on fulfillment of certain conditions.” This is why a personal injury legal fee is called a contingency fee.
How Much is a Personal Injury Lawyer Contingency Fee in New York?
Usually, the legal fee is 1/3 of the amount the lawyer obtains for you for your injuries, lost income, medical expenses, and other items.
New York accident lawyers are prohibited from charging more than a 1/3 contingency fee.
Do I Have to Pay Legal Fees if My Case Loses?
No. If you do not get money because your case loses or doesn’t settle, you do not have to pay any legal fees.
Can a Personal Injury & Accident Lawyer Charge Less Than a 1/3 Legal Fee?
While an attorney can charge less, and I’m sure it has happened, I have never seen a New York accident lawyer charge less than 1/3 of the amount they collect.
You shouldn’t look to negotiate the percentage of your legal fee. If you find an accident lawyer willing to accept a lower fee, it’s likely that your case will get less attention, the lawyer will look for a quick settlement, and you’ll end up with a lot less money.
Personal injury cases require a lot of time and effort, often over a few years. You may think you have a “clear-cut” accident case that’s easy, but that’s almost never a reality. Insurance companies fight hard on every case, even the ones that should be easy.
We have never lowered our legal fees for personal injury, but we don’t charge a lot of fees and expenses that other lawyers charge. Some of the legal fees and expenses other lawyers charge are listed below.
Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge an Hourly Fee?
Personal injury lawyers in New York do not charge an hourly legal fee. However, some personal injury attorneys charge an hourly fee for processing a No-Fault application and handling the paperwork involved in a No-Fault claim. We do not charge for No-Fault work.
Lawyers who charge a consultation fee are usually lawyers who charge by the hour, like a divorce lawyer or an estate planning lawyer. Even I had to pay a $500 consultation fee when I spoke with an estate planning lawyer.
The Personal Injury Accident Retainer
An attorney providing a contingency fee for a personal injury case must do so in writing, called a retainer, which is signed by the client. A retainer statement must then be filed by the attorney with the Office of Court Administration stating:
- Date of the agreement;
- Percentage charged;
- Name and address of the client;
- Name and address of a referring attorney, if any;
- Date and location of the accident; and
- Name, address, occupation, and the relationship of the person referring the client, If any.
Other Legal Fees in Personal Injury Cases
The well-known 1/3 contingency fee is for the pain and suffering claim. What is not well known is that some attorneys charge additional fees for other claims which arise in an accident case.
Disability — Some attorneys charge a fee to collect lost wages paid by NYS No-Fault in a car accident.
No-Fault — Some attorneys charge a fee for processing a No-Fault application and handling the paperwork involved in a No-Fault claim. It is permissible to charge an hourly fee for this.
Collision Damage — Some accident attorneys charge one-third of the money they get you for your collision damage. We have been criticized by other lawyers for not charging a legal fee for this.
Liens — Some attorneys charge one-third of the amount the lawyer reduces a medical lien.
Wrongful Death — Some attorneys charge a legal fee for the paperwork related to the estate. When someone dies in an accident and does not have a will, an executor or executrix must be appointed. With or without a will, a substantial amount of paperwork must be submitted to the Surrogate’s Court.
Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Pay for Case Expenses?
Not really. We will pay your case expenses in advance for you, so you do not have to pay them upfront. But personal injury lawyers in New York are prohibited from paying your case expenses (without you paying them back when we settle or win your case).
The money you owe for case expenses is reimbursed to the personal injury lawyer at the end of the case.
Do I Have to Pay My Lawyer Back for Case Expenses if My Case Loses?
No. If you do not get money because your case loses or doesn’t settle, we will forgive the money we advanced, so you don’t have to pay back the money.
Do Lawyers Charge Interest on Case Expenses?
Personal injury lawyers are entitled to charge interest on case expenses if it is written in the retainer. Some large personal injury law firms do charge interest on case expenses. But at 1-800-HURT-911, we do not charge interest on case expenses.
Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge Expenses Upfront?
When we have seen a lawyer in New York charge a client for case expenses upfront before the personal injury case was settled, it was usually when the lawyer was a general practice lawyer, not a personal injury lawyer.
But we have seen some personal injury lawyers tell clients, in the middle of their accident case, to pay for certain case expenses like reports from experts or doctors.
For instance, one of our clients called us when his previous lawyer told him that he hoped to settle the case for $75,000. When we took over his case, we learned that his previous personal injury lawyer told him to pay $1,500 upfront for a medical report from his doctor to use to settle the case. We gladly paid for the medical report and then settled his case six months later for $300,000. We also found two other insurance policies, which each paid another $10,000 for a total of $320,000.
At 1-800-HURT-911®, we advance your case expenses for you and we are reimbursed from your personal injury settlement check after it is deposited in our attorney escrow account. See our personal injury fees and expenses.
Do Clients Ever Pay Expenses in a Personal Injury Case?
New York court rules give a personal injury client the right to pay for case expenses upfront if you really want to. Why does New York State think you would want to pay the case expenses upfront? Because it will reduce your legal fee by 1/3 of the amount of the case expenses. But no one ever does it, and it’s really not wise to have to pay out of pocket and take the risk of winning vs. losing.
As of April 1, 2014, all Appellate Divisions of the New York State Supreme Court require attorneys to offer you two options regarding case expenses. Attorneys are also required to give you two examples in the retainer showing how this works. You can see two examples below showing how case expenses are calculated.
With the first option, the attorney advances the case expenses and is paid back at the end of the case. We advise that you choose this option requiring your lawyer to advance case expenses because you will not be responsible to pay back the case expenses if you do not get money for your case.
The second option allows you, the client, to pay the case expenses upfront in exchange for a slightly lower legal fee.
Following is an example of the two options:
Option Number One Example (The Law Firm Agrees to Pay and Remain Liable for All Costs and Expenses, Regardless of the Outcome of This Matter):
Total recovery: $100,000.00
Less 33 1/3 % of $100,000 -$33,333.33
Less expenses and disbursements: -$10,000.00 (expenses are paid back at the end of the case)
Client’s recovery (amount of money to client) = $56,666.67
Option Number Two Example (The Client Remains Liable for Repayment of All Costs and Expenses, Regardless of the Outcome of This Matter):
Total recovery $100,000.00
Less expenses and disbursements: -$10,000.00
Less 33 1/3 % of remaining $90,000 -$30,000.00
Client’s recovery (amount of money to client) = $60,000.00
Example Expenses in Personal Injury Cases
Miscellaneous Expenses — Many attorneys charge for copying, postage, messenger fees, overnight delivery fees, travel, computer storage, shredding, telephone, and other similar charges.
Case Expenses — You can expect to pay any lawyer for all other case expenses. Some examples of case expenses include the cost of:
- Investigation — Includes DMV and other computer searches, investigators, etc.
- Medical records
- Medical narrative reports — These reports usually range from $500-$1,500 for doctors
- Medical testimony at trial — Often ranges from $2,500 to $15,000
- Expert reports — These reports often range from $2,500 to $7,000
- Expert testimony at trial — Often ranges from $2,500 to $15,000
- Court fees
- Process server fees
- Court monitoring fees
- Court reporter fees for depositions and transcripts
- Trial preparation fees; and
- other costs.
We do not charge many of the legal fees and expenses listed on this page. Please see our legal fees
How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge for Other Fees?
While all personal injury lawyers in New York charge one-third, many lawyers charge fees for other services that we give free when we represent a client for an injury.
For instance, we do not charge to handle your No-Fault claim or to represent you for collision damage.
Many other lawyers will charge by the hour for your No-Fault claim or just will not do it. Why we handle your No-Fault claim for free:
- We don’t want our clients making mistakes handling their No-Fault claim that can seriously affect their personal injury case.
- It’s complicated and time-consuming, and our goal is to make your life easier.
- We don’t charge because we make enough money on the 1/3 legal fee for your pain and suffering claim. We don’t like being nickeled and dimed and don’t want to do it to you.
See our personal injury legal fees and the services we provide.
Additionally, personal injury lawyers in New York do not include the cost of appeals in the legal fee. If you decide to appeal a decision or trial verdict, there will be a separate legal fee for the appeal.
Appellate lawyers typically charge $20,000 upfront or a contingency fee for an appeal. The contingency fee would increase the total contingency fee of both the personal injury case and the appeal to 50%. However, it is very rare that an appeal is filed.
Do Any Personal Injury Lawyers Charge an Upfront Fee?
Personal injury defense lawyers charge a legal fee upfront. But if you’re being sued for personal injury, you do not usually need to pay a personal injury defense lawyer because your insurance company will provide you with a defense lawyer.
Although rare, I have seen a couple of lawyers in New York charge or request a client to pay a legal fee upfront for a personal injury case when the lawyer was a general practice lawyer, not a personal injury lawyer.
We received a call from someone who called us because another lawyer wanted to charge an upfront fee for his personal injury accident case. We gladly represented him without any upfront fee.
Personal injury lawyers in New York typically never charge a legal fee upfront or during your accident case. At 1-800-HURT-911®, we never charge a fee upfront or during your accident case. See our personal injury legal fees and the services we provide.
How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge to Loan Money to Clients?
Personal injury lawyers in New York are not allowed to loan money to clients. However, there are companies that provide a cash advance on your personal injury settlement.
Some personal injury lawyers do not want their clients to borrow money against their personal injury settlement and will not cooperate with a personal injury settlement cash advance company but we do all the time.
We can provide you with an immediate personal injury settlement cash advance so you can pay your important bills, such as rent and car payments. You do not need to borrow money to pay medical bills because there is almost always insurance available and other sources when there is no insurance.
Do Lawyers Charge Illegal Fees?
It’s very rare but unfortunately, just like any part of society, where there are people with financial problems and just plain bad people, there are lawyers with financial problems, drug problems, and bad people who are lawyers. Fortunately, the legal profession does a good job of getting rid of bad lawyers as soon as they are discovered.
We are aware of a personal injury lawyer in Brooklyn who took advantage of undocumented illegal aliens injured in accidents by charging them illegal fees.
Before I became a lawyer, I caught a prominent lawyer in New York who fraudulently charged my father several thousand dollars in case expenses that the lawyer never paid. The lawyer never thought I would call the companies he supposedly paid. I was astonished to find that the charges were fraudulent.
Every year, some lawyers, including personal injury lawyers, get disbarred and sometimes sent to prison for taking money from their attorney escrow accounts. I know a personal injury lawyer who took $2,500,000 from injured clients. He was disbarred and sent to prison for 2.5 years.
I’m proud to say that I do not have any debt, no financial problems, and always pay my bills on time. My credit score ranges from 825 to the 850 maximum limit, depending on the month.
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
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