This is the question that I would guess most car accident and personal injury victims have up front. Well my name is Ed Lemmo Esq. I am a personal injury car accident and personal injury lawyer in New York City . In this blog post I am going to tell you what my experience and research has told me injury victims in New York City , Manhattan , Bronx ,Brooklyn look for when they need a lawyer after an accident. And if your not up to reading I also have a short video to get you started on your search.
- WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IN NEW YORK
The first thing you can do when trying to find the right personal injury lawyer , is to ask family and friends for a reference. That is a good start but may not be the most effective . Many lawyers have a general practice which includes personal injury , car accident and slip trip and fall cases. But they are a general firm and jack of all trades. Much of the time , they will not help you maximize your recovery . Some of them may even downplay your injuries and just recommend that you settle for the maximum the insurance company will offer on your claim.
If you are in a car or slip and fall accident time is of the essence. You should hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after doing some research . If you go to a big firm , your case may not be big enough in terms of what they think its worth to give it much attention . I have heard of may injured victims going to a large personal injury firm only to be told that if they don't go for a surgery during the case , we dont want your case anymore and some of these firms put alot of pressure on the client to either get the surgery by funding , no fault or workers compensation if applicable or even will reject your case and move to be relieved as counsel or tell you to go find another lawyer.
You can go on the internet and perform a google search of personal injury lawyers in New York City . My advice is to meet with several lawyers and not just speak to paralegals or associate attorneys over the phone. Does the lawyer call you back ? Are they accessible. Ask them how many personal injury cases they have handled and whether they have handled cases similar to yours. Can they give you advice and assist you with filling out forms. Do they know the time deadlines to sue or file claims. Do they have trial experience ? All of these questions are fair and depending on the answers by the lawyer you will have a pretty good sense of whether they are the right fit.
If a lawyer tries to give you a value on your potential case then you should if your smart seek other opinions. Most of the time in the beginning of the case , it is impossible for the lawyer to give you an opinion on the value of a car or slip / trip and fall or malpractice case since he or she doesn't have all the facts or medical records. You should assist the lawyer in obtaining and getting them photos of the damage to your car , or the dangerous condition where you slipped or tripped. Depending on the condition , and whether it was something that could change quickly be willing to meet with the lawyers investigator , or take photos of the defective condition or if snow or ice , the snow and ice covered or unsalted sidewalk .
- PAST GOOGLE REVIEWS
Another important factor to consider is to look at the lawyers reviews from past clients or the public. This will give you a sense of whether the lawyer is dedicated and competent to handle your case.
Hire an attorney that knows the law.
Most of all meet with the prospective lawyer as soon as possible . Ask about his retainer agreement . In New York the Judiciary Law is clear . The client has to make a selection as to whether they want the lawyer to advance all of the expenses or if they ( the client ) wishes to pay . A sample retainer is below :
- SAMPLE RETAINER AGREEMENT
To: Client _______________________________
This Letter of Engagement and Retainer Agreement is furnished pursuant to various Rules as promulgated by the Courts of New York .
_____________________________ hereinafter referred to as the "Firm", undertakes your representation in connection with the matter(s) described below:
The undersigned client, residing at___________________________________________________(hereinafter referred to as the "Client"), hereby retains the Firm to prosecute or adjust a claim for damages arising from personal injuries and damages arising from a personal injury claim sustained by ___________________________, on __________________ through the negligence of ________ ______________________________and others .
The Client hereby gives the Firm the exclusive right to take all legal steps to enforce the said claim through trial , settlement , or arbitration or mediation , and agrees not to settle this claim/ or action in any manner without the Firm being advised of that fact in advance and without the law firm's written consent The client further agrees and authorizes all settlement checks pursuant to any settlement or judgment to be endorsed by the firm and deposited into the Firm's escrow account pending distribution .
In consideration of the services rendered and to be rendered by the Firm, the Client hereby agrees to pay the Law Firm and authorizes the Firm to endorse for the Client checks that may be paid in settlement of this claim and/or action and to retain out of said monies that come into the Firms hands and
Thirty-three and one-third (33½) percent of the sum recovered, whether recovered by suit, settlement or otherwise.
The Client has been given the following options with respect to how such percentage shall be computed, and has made the selection of how the percentage shall be computed as reflected by his/her checking the appropriate box and initialing on the adjacent line below:
Option Number One:
Client Remains Liable for Pavment of All Costs and Expenses, Regardless of the Outcome of This Matter.
Percentage is computed on the net sum recovered after deducting from the amount recovered expenses and disbursements for expert medical testimony and investigative or other services properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim or prosecution of the action. The Client will advance and prepay to the Fim1 all expenses and disbursements as they are incurred or anticipated for the enforcement of the claim and the prosecution of the action. The Firm may, in its discretion, require the Client to deposit with the Firm a specified amount of money, as the Firm deems appropriate, in order for such expenses and disbursements to be paid.
Option Number Two:
The Firm Agrees to Pay and Remain Liable for All Costs and Expenses Regardless of the Outcome in this matter or In The Event the Claim or Action is Dismissed or Otherwise Rejected
Percentage is computed on the gross sum recovered before deducting expenses and disbursements. The Finn agrees to pay and remain liable for all costs and expenses of the action and the Client will not remain responsible for all expenses and disbursements in the event the claim or action is dismissed or otherwise rejected by any court of competent jurisdiction or by jury.
The following reflects the financial consequences of each of the above two Options, using as an example a case in which there is a recovery of $100,000 - and this number is used only as an example that is easy to understand- and the expenses and disbursements in the case are $10,000:
Option Number One Example
Option Number Two Example
Less expenses and disbursements:
Less expenses and disbursements:
Less 33½%of remaining $90.000.00:
Less 33½ % of$100,000:
Examples of expenses and disbursements for expert medical testimony and other testimony and investigative or other services properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim or prosecution of the action include, but are not limited to, charges for: retaining investigators; storage fees relating to the preservation of evidence; obtaining medical records; retaining expert witnesses and consultants, including locating and preparing expert witnesses and consultants, obtaining reports and testimony, and related transportation, parking, mileage, meals and hotel costs; court filing fees; service of process fees; subpoena fees; costs associated with taking depositions, including stenographer's fees, videographer's fees and video teleconferencing costs; court reporter fees; notary fees; mediator, arbitrator and/or special master fees; specialized medical and legal research fees; computerized research fees; expenses for focus groups and jury consultants; photography; preparation of exhibits; photocopying and other reproduction costs; fees and expenses of non-expert witnesses; postage and delivery fees; travel costs, including parking, mileage, transportation, meals and hotel costs; long distance telephone and fax charges; and all other necessary and incidental expenses and disbursements incurred on the Client's behalf. This list is not exclusive.
In computing the fee, the costs as taxed, including interest upon a judgment, shall be deemed part of the amount recovered. For the following or similar items there shall be no deduction in computing such percentages: Liens, assignments or claims in favor of hospitals, for medical care and treatment by doctors and nurses, or self-insurers or
The Client hereby authorizes the Firm to endorse for the Client and deposit into the Firm's escrow account any checks which may come into the Firm's hands and which are payable to the Client as a result of the .above claim.
It is further understood that the Firm may associate with other counsel of the Firm's choosing, for assisting in the prosecution of this claim, and that other counsel may render services herein, including investigation, review of records, preparation of legal documents, pre-trial depositions and trial.
Because of the uncertainty of legal proceeding, the interpretation and changes in the law and many unknown factors, the Firm cannot and does not predict nor guarantee the amount of time it may take, or that any result can, will or is likely to be obtained. No representation has been made to the Client as to what amount, if any, he/she may be entitled to recover in this case.
The Firm undertakes to represent the Client, subject to investigation, and will not commence suit and/or initiate a claim until after the Firm has had an opportunity to obtain and review the relevant records, including but not limited to medical/hospital records.
It is further understood and agreed by the Client that this retainer neither includes nor will this Firm represent the Client for: no fault, Federal and/or State disability benefits, arbitration/litigation of no fault benefits, workers compensation benefits, litigation involving liens or rights of subrogation, appeals of any kind, supplemental proceeding to collect on or enforce any judgment or award, unless a separate agreement in writing is entered into between the Client and the Firm. All liens of any kind shall be payable solely out of the Client's share of the recovery and there shall be no deduction for said items in computing the attorney's fee.
It is further understood and agreed by the Client that this retainer agreement does not include, nor will this Firm represent the Client in, trust and estate work and/or Surrogate Court work. For example, matters which are not included in this retainer agreement, and for which the Client would have to retain separate counsel, would include: a) any work that would have to be performed if the appointment of an Executor/Administrator or Guardian is required and/or if trust or guardianship proceedings must be initiated and/or Surrogate Court proceedings are required, in order to proceed with the underlying claim and/or lawsuit; and b) any work that would have to be performed in connection with proceedings which might need to be initiated in any court to withdraw funds deposited pursuant to an Infant Compromise Order or similar order or court directive. If such work is required, the Client understands and agrees that the Client would have to retain separate counsel to perform such work or retain this Firm pursuant to a separate retainer agreement to perform this work.
FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS :
- LIENS: Liens are the claim or demand, whether meritorious or not, by others against any recovery in this case. This includes demands by medical professionals, expert witnesses, Medicaid, Medicare, any governmental assistance program, ERISA, or legal funding companies. Under either option, all liens and medical expenses are solely the responsibility of the client and the liens, if any, are deducted from the client's
- CASE EXPENSES: Under either option, One or Two selected by the client as to the division of attorney fees, case expenses include all of the costs advanced and incurred in investigating and litigating the case. Examples of expenses and disbursements for expert medical and other testimony and investigative or other services properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim or prosecution of the action include, but are not limited to, charges for: retaining investigators; storage fees relating to the preservation of evidence; obtaining medical records; retaining expert witnesses and consultants, including locating and preparing expert witnesses and consultants, obtaining reports and testimony and related transportation, parking, mileage, meals and hotel costs; court filing fees; service of process fees; subpoena fees; costs associated with taking depositions, including stenographer's fees, videographer's fees and video teleconferencing costs; court reporter fees; notary fees; mediator, arbitrator and/or special master fees; specialized medical and legal research fees; computerized research fees; expenses for focus groups and jury consultants; photography; preparation of exhibits; photocopying and other reproduction costs; fees and expenses of non-expert witnesses; postage and delivery fees; travel costs, including parking, mileage, transportation, meals and hotel costs; long distance telephone and fax charges; and all other necessary and incidental expenses and disbursements incurred on the Client's behalf. This list is not
If The Firm advances the money for costs, disbursements and expenses under Option Number One, the money may be borrowed by the Firm from a third-party lender. At the conclusion of the case, the Client agrees that all such monies, including principal, interest charged the Firm, and costs related to such advances shall be reimbursed to the Firm from any proceeds of the claim.
- INTEREST: In computing the fee, the costs as taxed, including interest upon a judgment, shall be deemed part of the amount For the following or similar items there shall be no deduction in computing such percentages: Liens, assignments or claims in favor of hospitals, for medical care and treatment by doctors and nurses, or self-insurers or insurance carriers.
- JUDGMENT: The Client understands and agrees that, without regard to whether the Client has selected Option Number One or Option Number Two, under no circumstances will the Firm be responsible for the payment of any judgment that may be entered against the Client arising out of either the incident / accident or the prosecution of the action, including any bill of costs.
- APPEALS: The Firm shall have the right, but not the obligation, to represent the Client on appeal. It is understood that in the event of an appeal from an adverse Order or Judgment, the Client agrees that any such costs, disbursements or legal fees for an appellate lawyer shall be in addition to costs, disbursements and fees outlined herein relating to this underlying case. The Client agrees that any appeal shall be at the sole and exclusive option of the Firm, in their exercise of legal In the event an appeal is handled by another firm, the Firm shall have the option of seeking compensation to be determined by the Court .The client will be responsible for the costs of the appeal.
- INVESTIGATION: The client understands and it has been explained by the firm that any claim must be investigated prior to commencement of an action or proceeding to prosecute that claim. It is understood that if our investigation reveals that you do not have a claim, then you will we will notify you in writing, and this retainer shall deemed null and void. I acknowledge in the event the Firm rejects the case, all of our legal services in this matter will end unless otherwise agreed upon in writing signed by me, when there is a final agreement, settlement, decision or judgment by the court.
- ATTORNEY LIEN : In the event that the Firm is discharged, I understand and agree that the Firm's attorney fee shall be based upon quantum meruit evaluation, pursuant to Judiciary Law Sec. 475, et seq., and reimbursement of expenses and disbursements advanced by the firm will immediately become due and payable by me or my new attorney .
- OF COUNSEL OR TRIAL COUNSEL AT DISCRETION OF EDWARD LEMMO P.C.
The client understands and agrees that the Firm , Edward Lemmo Esq. may hire co- trial counsel at his discretion to assist him with the prosecution and disbursements of this action. I understand I will be notified of the name and address of the trial counsel and they will exercise joint responsibility in this matter. The client understands that there will be one attorney fee to be divided as per separate agreement between Lemmo PC and his trial counsel.
- REFFERING COUNSEL
If this case is referred by another counsel insert name if applicable [_________________________
], the referring attorney and attorney of record will assume joint responsibility. The Client agrees to a division of the legal fee between the Firm and the referring lawyer, who shall be paid out of our attorney's fee and shall not affect the Client's share. The referring attorney shall receive an agreed upon percentage between both counsel of the attorney fees.
- NO GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS
I understand and acknowledge that if the Firm decides to prosecute the claim, the Firm has not made any representations as to what amount, if any my recovery will be. I understand that results cannot be predicted or guaranteed. Should the Firm determine that there is no viable case in New York , the client understands that the Firm will advise me in writing that they cannot handle and represent me in this potential case .
I have read the terms of the within retainer agreement, consisting of (5) pages, the terms are understood and all questions regarding same have been answered to my satisfaction.
It is further agreed that any oral changes or modifications of the above contract are null and void unless subscribed to in writing and executed by this Firm.
The Client acknowledges that he/she has received a copy of this Retainer Agreement, has read this Retainer Agreement, has discussed and has /or had the opportunity to discuss same and/or seek independent legal counsel and understands and agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions contained herein.
Dated : ____________
___________________, NY x __________________________
- IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A CAR CRASH AS A DRIVER, PASSENGER OR PEDESTRIAN LOOK TO HIRE A LAWYER TO ASSIST YOU IN FILING A NO FAULT APPLICATION TO YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER OR THE HOST CAR'S INSURANCE COMPANY TO MAKE SURE YOUR MEDICAL BILLS AND LOST EARINGINS ARE PAID .
A sample No Fault Form in New York is below :
NO FAULT FORM NF-2
Under New York law if you are a driver or passenger or a pedestrian involved in a motor vehicle v vehicle accident or pedestrian v vehicle accident., you must file no- fault application also called an NF-2 form within 30 days of the accident with your insurance carrier if you are a driver or with the drivers insurance carrier if you are a passenger or pedestrian involved in an accident. It is also called an NF-2 form and here is what it looks like in New York . I recommend you get assistance from an attorney in filling out the form.
NEW YORK MOTOR VEHICLE NO-FAULT INSURANCE LAW APPLICATION FOR MOTOR VEHICLE NO-FAULT BENEFITS
DATE OF ACCIDENT
TO ENABLE US TO DETERMINE IF YOUR ARE ENTITLED TO BENEFITS UNDER THE NEW YORK NO-FAULT LAW, PLEASE COMPLETE THIS FORM AND RETURN IT PROMPTLY.
IMPORTANT: 1. TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS YOU MUST COMPLETE AND SIGN THIS APPLICATION.
- YOU MUST SIGN ANY ATTACHED AUTHORIZATION(S).
- RETURN PROMPTLY WITH COPIES OF ANY BILLS YOU HAVE RECEIVED TO DATE.
1. YOUR NAME
2. PHONE NOS. HOME BUSINESS
3. YOUR ADDRESS
(NO., STREET, CITY OR TOWN AND ZIP CODE)
4. DATE OF BIRTH
5. SOCIAL SECURITY NO.
6. DATE AND TIME OF ACCIDENT
7. PLACE OF ACCIDENT (STREET), CITY OR TOWN AND STATE
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
- DESCRIBE YOUR INJURY
- IDENTITY OF VEHICLE YOU OCCUPIED OR OPERATED AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT: OWNER'S NAME MAKE YEAR
THIS VEHICLE WAS:
A BUS OR SCHOOL BUS, OR A MOTORCYCLE
- WERE YOU THE DRIVER OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE? WERE YOU A PASSENGER IN THE MOTOR VEHICLE? WERE YOU A PEDESTRIAN?
WERE YOU A MEMBER OF OUR POLICYHOLDER'S HOUSEHOLD?
DO YOU OR A RELATIVE WITH WHOM YOU RESIDE OWN A MOTOR VEHICLE?
CONTINUATION ON NEXT PAGE
NYS FORM NF-2 (Rev 1/2004)
Page 1 of 3
APPLICATION FOR MOTOR VEHICLE NO-FAULT BENEFITS - - PAGE TWO
- WERE YOU TREATED BY A DOCTOR(S) OR OTHER PERSON(S) FURNISHING HEALTH SERVICES?
IF YES, NAME AND ADDRESS OF SUCH DOCTOR(S) OR PERSON(S):
- IF YOUR WERE TREATED AT A HOSPITAL(S), WERE YOU AN OUT-PATIENT? IN-PATIENT? DATE OF ADMISSION:
HOSPITAL'S NAME AND ADDRESS:
- WHAT ARE YOUR GROSS AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS?
NUMBER OF HOURS YOU WORK PER DAY:
- WERE YOU RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT?
- LIST NAMES AND ADDRESS OF YOUR EMPLOYER AND OTHER EMPLOYERS FOR ONE YEAR PRIOR TO ACCIDENT DATE AND GIVE OCCUPATION AND DATES OF EMPLOYMENT:
EMPLOYER AND ADDRESS
EMPLOYER AND ADDRESS
EMPLOYER AND ADDRESS
- AS A RESULT OF YOUR INJURY HAVE YOU HAD ANY OTHER EXPENSES?
IF YES, ATTACH EXPLANATION AND AMOUNTS OF SUCH EXPENSES.
- DUE TO THIS ACCIDENT HAVE YOU RECEIVED OR ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR PAYMENTS UNDER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
NEW YORK STATE DISABILITY? WORKERS' COMPENSATION?
NYS FORM NF-2 (Rev 1/2004)
Page 2 of 3
CONTINUATION ON NEXT PAGE
APPLICATION FOR MOTOR VEHICLE NO-FAULT BENEFITS - - PAGE THREE
THE APPLICANT AUTHORIZES THE INSURER TO SUBMIT ANY AND ALL OF THESE FORMS TO ANOTHER PARTY
OR INSURER IF SUCH IS NECESSARY TO PERFECT ITS RIGHTS OF RECOVERY PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE NO-FAULT LAW.
THIS FORM IS SUBSCRIBED AND AFFIRMED BY THE APPLICANT AS TRUE UNDER THE PENALTIES OF PERJURY
DO NOT DETACH
AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF WORK AND OTHER LOSS INFORMATION
THIS AUTHORIZATION OR PHOTOCOPY THEREOF, WILL AUTHORIZE YOU TO FURNISH ALL INFORMATION YOU MAY HAVE REGARDING MY WAGES, SALARY OR OTHER LOSS WHILE EMPLOYED BY YOU. YOUR ARE AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEW YORK COMPREHENSIVE MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE REPARATIONS ACT (NO-FAULT LAW).
NAME (PRINT OR TYPE) SOCIAL SECURITY NO.
DO NOT DETACH
AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF HEALTH SERVICE OR TREATMENT INFORMATION
THIS AUTHORIZATION OR PHOTOCOPY THEREOF, WILL AUTHORIZE YOU TO FURNISH ALL INFORMATION YOU MAY HAVE REGARDING MY CONDITION WHILE UNDER YOUR OBSERVATION OR TREATMENT, INCLUDING THE HISTORY OBTAINED, X-RAYS AND PHYSICAL FINDINGS, DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEW YORK COMPREHENSIVE MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE REPARATIONS ACT (NO-FAULT LAW).
NAME (PRINT OR TYPE)
(IF THE APPLICANT IS A MINOR, PARENT OR GUARDIAN SHALL SIGN AND INDICATE CAPACITY AND RELATIONSHIP).
*LANGUAGE TO BE FILLED IN BY INSURER OR SELF-INSURER. NYS FORM NF-2 (Rev 1/2004)
- ASK THE LAWYER WHAT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IS FOR YOUR TYPE OF ACCIDENT ?
Generally in New York you have three years to file a lawsuit from the date of the accident. There are exceptions to this if the injured party is an infant In medical malpractice generally you have 2and 1/2 years to sue from the date of malpractice . Again there are exceptions to this if the doctor who committed the malpractice continuously treated the injured party. In a wrongful death case an Administrator has to be appointed for the deceased party , who was injured or died an you generally have 2 year to sue from the date of death to recover wrongful death damages. If you are suing the City of New York or one of their agencies, for example the Department of Education or the NYC Transit authority a NOTICE OF CLAIM MUST BE FILED IN 90 NINETY DAYS OR YOUR CLAIM MAY BE TIME BARRED. THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR SUCH A CASE IS 1 YEAR AND 90 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE ACCIDENT TO FILE A SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT . EACH SITUTATION AND STAUTE OF LIMITATIONS IS DIFFERENT AS YOU CAN SEE.
- HIRE A DEDICATED , HONEST AND COMPETENT LICENSED ATTORNEY FOR YOUR CLAIM
Finally , hire an attorney who is sincere, honest and dedicated to helping you achieve justice. Sometimes the value of the case depends on whether your injuries meet the legal requirements of a serious injury in order to recover any money , even if you were not at fault for the accident.
Just pick up the phone and call me if you have any other questions on what to look for in hiring a personal injury attorney or any questions about your accident or situation. I am happy to help.