Every personal injury claim is different and there are no guarantees. Below are rough answers to some questions we hear frequently about personal injury. Further below is a specific FAQ on No-Fault in New York.
Personal Injury FAQ
Q: How much do lawyers charge?
A: For most personal injury claims, there is no fee unless you collect. Most lawyers in New York charge a one-third contingency fee. When the claim is resolved, the lawyer gets reimbursed for expenses out of the award. Next the lawyer takes the one-third fee. For example, if a claim settles for $35,000, and the lawyer has $2000 in expenses, the fee is $11,000 (1/3 of $33,000). The client would get $22,000.
Q: Does the lawyer always pay the expenses up front?
A: Usually, but not always. There are two major 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, we will tell the client that they will have to pay the expenses. The other situation is when there is a good offer and the client refuses to accept it against our advice. In these lawsuits we require the client to cover all future expenses.
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 testimony, and some doctors charge as much as $5000. Other expenses include process servers, investigations, medical records, and meals. In some cases you may need other experts. In one big case we spent about $10K on an accident reconstructionist. The other side spent about $40K on theirs.
Q: What is the process?
A: First most lawyers negotiate with the insurance company. If negotiations are unproductive, the lawyer files a lawsuit. For a few months the lawyers exchange paperwork with the insurance company attorneys. Next come depositions, where they question the plaintiff client and the plaintiff lawyer questions theirs. Then the insurance company might have the plaintiff examined by their doctor in what’s known as an IME – Independent Medical Examination. Plaintiff lawyers prefer to call this a Defense Medical Examination. Last is trial. A lawsuit might settle at any point along the way, even while the jury is deliberating.
After a trial the losing side can appeal. Sometimes even the winner can appeal. Cases sometimes settle during the appeal process.
When you are hurt in an automobile accident in New York State, No-Fault insurance can help with many of your costs. The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) will help you to understand when and how No-Fault pays, what it pays for, and what you have to do.
Q: Am I eligible for No-Fault benefits?
A: You are eligible to receive No-Fault benefits in New York State if:
1. You are injured in an automobile accident;
2. You are a pedestrian struck by a car or motorcycle;
3. You are hurt during the use, operation or maintenance of a motor vehicle unless you are injured in the course of the business of repairing or maintaining a vehicle.
*** Motorcycle drivers and their passengers are not eligible for No-Fault benefits.
Q: What do I do first?
A: Submit your medical expenses and lost wages. Forms for No-Fault and New York State Disability income benefits are provided by the No-Fault carrier (the insurance company that insured the car you were in or struck by at the time of the accident). To begin the process, you have to submit paperwork to that carrier. Failure to file in a timely manner may result in a denial of benefits. We recommend submitting this information as quickly as possible, and we can help with the process.
Q: What information will I need to submit?
A: You will be asked to list all medical providers and facilities that are treating you. The No-Fault carrier will send forms to your doctors. Most will submit their bills directly to the carrier. You should also list your employer(s), and any other related expenses.
Q: What if I go to a new doctor for treatment?
A: Give the new doctor the name and address of the No-Fault carrier so that they too can submit their bills for payment by the carrier. Once your application has been filed, the No-Fault carrier assumes responsibility for the medical bills resulting from the accident.
You must also list your employer on the application for No-Fault benefits so that any lost wages you incur as a result of the accident can be recovered.
Q: What if my child is hurt in an accident?
A: In New York State, if a minor (someone under the age of eighteen) receives medical treatment as a result of an automobile accident, the parent or guardian is legally responsible for those medical bills. Thus, the parent or guardian must forward the minor’s medical bills to the No-Fault insurance carrier, just as they would their own. Again, the No-Fault application must be timely filed, or benefits may be denied.
Q: Besides medical bills, what other costs can I recover through No-Fault?
A: In New York State, you may be reimbursed by the No-Fault carrier for the cost of lost wages, prescriptions, travel expenses for medical treatment, and household help while you are recovering from your injuries – including costs of child care while you visit medical providers. To get reimbursed for these expenses, you must submit them to No-Fault. We recommend submitting expenses immediately.