Personal Injury FAQ for New York
Every personal injury claim is different and there are no guarantees. Below are rough answers to some questions we hear frequently about personal injury in New York State.
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Q: How much do you charge?
A: For most personal injury lawsuits, we charge no fee unless you collect. We charge a one-third contingency fee. When the claim is resolved, we get reimbursed for our expenses out of the award. Next we take our one-third fee. For example, if an injury claim settles for $35,000, and we have $2000 in expenses, our fee is $11,000 (1/3 of $33,000). The client would get $22,000.
Q: Do you always pay the expenses up front?
A: Usually, but not always. There are two rare situations where we don’t. First, some personal injury claims are not very strong, but we might still be willing to work on a contingency fee basis. In such claims, the client will have to pay the expenses and we may also require a partial up-front fee with a reduced percentage on the contingency. The other situation is when there is a good offer and the client refuses to accept it against our advice. We would then require the client to cover all future expenses and reimburse us for past expenses before moving forward with the case.
Q: What are typical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit?
A: In New York personal injury lawsuits, filing fees usually total less than $500. Deposition transcripts also usually total less than $500. The biggest expense is when a lawsuit goes to trial and we have to pay doctors and other experts to testify. We have paid anywhere from $300 to $7500 for a doctor’s time, and some doctors may charge more. Other expenses include process servers, investigations and medical records. We do our best to limit expenses. This is particularly important in cases with lower values. Once we won a $16,000 verdict. The main specialist had moved away and it would have cost $10,000 or more to bring him here. We went with a local doctor who charged only $1000. His testimony was excellent.
Some cases are more complicated and expenses are higher. Typical reasons why you might see increased expenses are the need for additional experts, such as for accident reconstruction, or where we need to have more than one doctor testify.
Q: What is the process?
A: First we usually negotiate with the insurance company. Then we file a lawsuit. For a few months we exchange paperwork with the insurance company attorneys. Next come depositions, where they question our client and we question theirs. This usually happens in a lawyer’s office. Other witnesses might also be deposed. Then the insurance company might have our client examined by their doctor (an IME, or independent medical examination). Last is trial. And rare cases have proceedings after trial, such as appeals or bad faith claims. A lawsuit might settle at any point along the way.
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Q: How much is my case worth?
A: Every case is different. We have to consider various factors to assess the value. In some cases, liability (who is at fault) is unclear and the injuries are not severe. These cases may well be worth nothing, or have a low enough value that it would not make sense for us to take the case. In other cases liability is clear and the injuries are very severe. In such cases the amount of insurance becomes an important factor.
If the at-fault driver has low insurance coverage ($25,000 is the minimum in NY) you may have a claim against your own insurance company under “underinsured motorist” coverage.
When there is limited coverage and we have a good case, we will push the at-fault insurance company to settle quickly. If they fail to conduct themselves properly, this can lead to a “bad faith” claim that would allow us to get more from the insurance company than the insurance coverage.
Bad faith cases are rare, and complicated to set up. In general, we do not expect to get more out of a case than the available insurance. If you have a case where the injuries are very severe, it is very important to retain an attorney who knows how to pursue a bad faith claim.
Q: What if I don’t live in New York?
A: This is not a problem. Many of our clients are from out of state, including Canada. We’ve even been contacted by attorneys in England about representing their clients here. We recently settled a case for over $100,000 for a client from the southwestern US who was injured here while visiting family. We communicated mostly by e-mail, with some phone calls and we never actually met in person. The client never had to come back to this area. — Remember that every case is different and yours may not go so well.
If the case goes far enough you would have to come back to this area. We can work to limit the amount of travel. In a typical case for a distant client, you would have to come here at most twice — once for depositions and the IME, and once for the trial. If we can settle before depositions, you will not have to come at all. Your travel expenses would be an expense of the case and you would be reimbursed for them from any settlement or award.
Our main attorney, Warren Redlich, now lives out-of-state himself. Our local NY attorneys handle routine appearances. Warren flies up from sunny Florida for trials.
No-Fault insurance pays for various expenses for people injured in New York car accidents. It applies to the occupants of a car (including pickups, SUVs, and most vehicles, but not to motorcycle drivers or passengers), and also to pedestrians and bicyclists who are hit by a car.
Submit your medical expenses and lost wages to the No-Fault insurance company, which is the insurance company for the car you were in (or the car that hit you if you were a pedestrian or bicyclist). They should provide you with the necessary paperwork. We can help you figure out which company to contact.
Make sure your doctors and other health care providers know that your case involves a car accident and that all expenses should be covered by No-Fault. They will need to know the name of the insurance company along with the policy number and/or claim number.
You should also be able to get paid for certain other expenses, such as if you have to take a taxi to a doctor’s appointment, cost of prescription drugs, even for housework if you hire someone to help you. If you’re not sure, submit the expense and see if they’ll pay for it.
NY Personal Injury Attorney FAQ
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NY Address: c/o DeLoach Law Firm, PO Box 634, Ballston Spa, NY 12020
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