How Personal Injury Settlements Are Paid in New York

For anyone who’s been through a personal injury, the questions often linger: “How much will I receive from a settlement?” and “What are the costs, including my personal injury lawyer’s fees?” These are valid concerns because the truth is that personal injury cases can vary significantly, and so can the amounts victims ultimately receive. 

Understanding what factors can influence your settlement payment is crucial. 

In this guide, we’ll navigate the landscape of personal injury settlements in New York and shed light on the costs and fees involved, providing you with a clear picture of what to expect.

Factors That Affect a Personal Injury Settlement

Several factors can affect the value of your personal injury settlement.

  • Severity of Injuries: The extent of your injuries significantly impacts your settlement. More severe injuries typically result in higher compensation.
  • Liability: Determining who’s at fault and to what degree plays a significant role. New York follows comparative negligence, where your compensation is reduced if you share some blame.
  • Insurance Limits: The at-fault party’s insurance limits can cap the amount you receive, even if your case is worth more.
  • Evidence: The strength of your evidence, including medical records, witness statements, and accident reports, affects your claim’s value.
  • Lost Income: Compensation may include lost wages, but the amount depends on your documented income loss.

Additional factors that might increase or decrease the worth of your claim:

  • Existing medical conditions, illnesses, and prior injuries.
  • The potential liability of a government entity for the damages.
  • Eligibility for workers’ compensation.

The Costs of a Personal Injury Claim

The main costs of a personal injury claim boil down to three categories:

  • Medical expenses
  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs and expenses

Medical Expenses

This includes current and future medical bills, rehabilitation, and treatment costs. Your settlement may face liens from medical providers, your health insurance company, or other entities if you have unpaid bills related to your case. Nonetheless, your personal injury attorney can attempt to bargain for the expenses associated with these services, ultimately striving to secure a larger share of the settlement for you.

Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fees

Typically, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay them if you win your case or negotiate a settlement, and it’s usually a percentage of the settlement.

The fee typically falls within the range of 33 ⅓ to 40% of the total award you receive, but this can vary. Each attorney will provide their own fee arrangement.

Following the NY Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer is obligated to furnish the following details in written form to a client:

  • The approach the lawyer uses to calculate the fee.
  • The specific percentages allocated to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial, or appeal.
  • Any litigation and related expenses that will be subtracted from the final award.
  • The timing for deducting these litigation and other expenses from the award.
  • Any costs the client will be responsible for, regardless of the case’s outcome.

It’s crucial to carefully review this written agreement and discuss any questions you might have with your attorney.

Court Costs and Expenses

These can include filing fees, expert witness fees, and other legal expenses.

  • Expert Witnesses: Regular witnesses are unpaid, but expert witnesses, like doctors or accident analysts, charge for their knowledge.
  • Filing Documents: Filing court documents incurs costs, and you’ll pay each time you submit new ones. 
  • Paying Court Reporters: Court reporters are needed to record trials and depositions, and they need payment.
  • Handling Medical Documents: Copying and delivering medical records usually involves charges.
  • Travel and Other Expenses: You might have travel and additional costs, which can come out of your settlement funds.

Once these costs have been subtracted, you’ll typically get the remaining settlement as a check.

How Much Goes Into Your Pocket?

Taking all these elements into account, here’s a simple example of what you might receive in a hypothetical $100,000 settlement when working with an attorney who charges a 33 1/3% fee:

  • Initial Settlement Amount: $100,000
  • Legal Fees (33 1/3%): $33,333
  • Court Expenses, etc.: $5,000
  • Medical Bills: $5,000
  • Your Final Distribution: $56,667

Take note that this is a simplified example, and your case may differ significantly. The key point is to ensure you have a clear understanding of the factors that could impact your case, the associated fees and costs, and when these deductions will occur.

How Much Should You Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement?

The value of your claim should cover all your costs and losses. It’s crucial to calculate not just your immediate expenses but also anticipated future costs, including medical bills and income losses. A skilled personal injury attorney can help determine a fair amount, considering all of these factors.

The Importance of Getting a Personal Injury Attorney

You might be tempted to engage directly with the responsible party and their insurer to resolve your claim. The insurance adjuster could advise you to handle the matter independently.

However, accepting a settlement offer without legal counsel may not be in your best interest. The primary aim of insurance adjusters is to minimize payouts and expedite case closures. Consequently, their settlement offers might fall significantly short of the true value of your injury claim.

Moreover, some adjusters might employ questionable strategies to pressure you into accepting a lower settlement than you genuinely merit. Engaging a personal injury attorney serves to shield you from these tactics and ensures the pursuit of the highest possible settlement for your injury case.

With medical bills, insurance companies, and legal complexities, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the intricacies of your case, helping you build a robust claim and ensuring you get the settlement you deserve. 

At Joudeh & Kuller, we understand the challenges that personal injury victims face. We’re committed to ensuring your settlement covers all your expenses, so you can focus on your recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation and let us help you navigate the path to justice and fair compensation.

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