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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Syracuse Car Accident Lawyer?
Syracuse car accident lawyers generally charge the same amount. First, there is generally no fee for the initial consultation. After that, if the client signs the lawyer’s retainer agreement, the attorney charge is a “contingency fee” of 1/3 of whatever the attorney recovers for the client. If nothing is recovered there is no fee. But at Michaels & Smolak, and at most reputable firms, the client is given two options as to how to calculate the 1/3 fee.
Option 1 is the traditional way. The fee is 1/3 of the “net recovery”. For example, if the case settles for $100,000 but the lawyer spent $10,000 (expenses) on things such as the cost of putting the injured client’s doctor on the stand, paying subpoena fees, etc., then the “net recovery” is $90,000. The client will get $60,000 (1/3 of $90,000) and the firm takes $30,000.
The downside of option 1 is that, if the case is lost at trial (this happens from time to time), or no recovery is had, the client must pay back the expenses. The law firm does not earn any fee, nor does the client get any compensation, but the $10,000 expenses must be paid by the client.
Option 2 avoids the risk of the client ending up paying the expenses. Under option 2 the fee is a bit more because it is 1/3 of the “gross recovery”. The “gross recovery” is settlement amount before the expenses are counted. So in the example above, the “gross recovery” is $100,000. The fee will be 1/3 of that amount, or $33,333. So the fee is a bit higher than with option 1, but the big advantage to the client is that, if the case goes to trial and a jury rejects the case, the client does not owe the expenses. The law firm assumes responsibility for the expense. There is no risk at all to the client with option 2.
Our car accident lawyers leave it up to our Syracuse area clients to decide which option is better for them. We explain the two options and then leave the decision totally up to our injured client.
We of course give them all the information we can so that they can make an informed decision. For example, we can usually tell right away whether a case is very likely to settle early and without a trial. If we feel this is the case, our car accident lawyers will let our Syracuse area clients know right at the first meeting. The client is probably better off with option 1 if that is the case because there is almost no risk of the case failing to bring in a settlement, and that means there will be no expenses left over. Choosing Option 1 allows the client to pay a lower fee as described above with almost no risk of ending up with a bill for expenses.
The Syracuse car accident lawyers of Michaels & Smolak want all their clients to pick the fee arrangement that is best for them based on the facts of their case and on their own preferences.
When you think about it, the two options above make sense and are fair. Whoever is taking the risk of ending up with expenses should the case fail gets rewarded for taking that risk. If the client takes that risk (Option 1), then the fee he pays is slightly lower (1/3 of the net recovery rather than 1/3 of the gross recovery). On the other hand, if the law firm takes that risk (Option 2), then their fee is slightly higher (1/3 of the gross recovery rather than 1/3 of the net recovery).
The fee for medical malpractice cases and cases where the injured client is under 18 years old are different, are our fee is generally lower. It’s too complicated to explain here, but if you call us, we will explain.
All New York car accident victims should also know this: New York State law REQUIRES the attorney to charge only a FAIR fee. If a fee is deemed unfair to the client for any reason, the courts can and sometimes do modify the fee arrangement to benefit the client. Of course, at Michaels & Smolak, our fee arrangements are always fair. We guaranty it. Call us to learn more.
More FAQ's About Car Accident Cases