Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there a consultation fee? No. No attorney should charge you a consultation fee for a personal injury claim.
- What are the legal fees? Generally, the legal fee for personal injury cases is 33 & 1/3% on the first $500,000 recovered; 30% on the next $500,000; 25% on the next $500,000; and 20% on the next $500,000. The court will determine the percentage of lawyer's fees for amounts in excess of $2,000,000. If no award or settlement is obtained, the attorney is paid nothing other than costs. Costs include fees to obtain medical records, expert reports, photocopies, postage, facsimiles, etc.
- How long does a personal injury claim take to complete? Each case is different, but if a case is not settled prior to suit being filed (within the first two years), then it can take close to four years from the date of the accident. When a personal injury case actually goes to trial, the average length of time between the date of the accident and the recovery is approximately 2-4 years.
- What is arbitration? Arbitration, also called Alternative Dispute Resolution, or Mediation, is similar to a trial, in that opposing counsels present testimony of the parties and witnesses to an objective third party. There are several differences however between an arbitration hearing and a trial. At arbitration, the proceeding is relatively informal. The rules of evidence are relaxed, and parties usually seek to settle the case. The Arbitrator will prepare a report based on the evidence presented and make a determination as to the negligence of the parties and the settlement award. If either party is not satisfied with the arbitration result, a Motion may be brought before the Court to require a trial before a judge and jury. If the party requesting the trial does not receive a jury verdict that is an improvement of the arbitration award, that party is subject to financial sanctions such as attorney's fees and court costs.
- Can family members sue on behalf of a deceased victim? The legal system has provided several means of recovery for a victim's heirs if a person injured in an accident dies as a result of those injuries. New Jersey permits a wrongful death lawsuit when someone causes the death of another. If an accident victim dies from unrelated causes, the tort claim "survives" in most circumstances, and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the estate.
- What if my injuries were caused by several people's negligent conduct? Counsel will always bring action against every person who caused your injury. For example, multiple negligent drivers often cause automobile accidents. New Jersey uses the rule of "comparative negligence," where each defendant is known as a "joint tortfeasor" and they will be held liable for the portion of the harm he or she caused. This percentage is carefully calculated after evaluating all relevant factors of the accident.