Sunday, August 22, 2010

Albuquerque Accident Attorneys Should Discount Their Fees

Lower attorney contingency fees put more money in client's pocket after personal injury and wrongful death settlements.

By : Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Albuquerque, NM)

You have probably seen all the attorneys advertising on television, billboards and the sides of buses that they will represent you in your personal injury claim on a percentage fee basis.  This is called a contingency fee.  A contingency fee means that you pay the personal injury attorney no hourly fee, but instead pay a "percentage fee" at the conclusion of the claim.  If the lawyer recovers no money on the claim, the attorney gets no attorney fee.

The New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct set the ethical rules for attorneys to follow when charging clients a contingency fee. The rules require the contingent fee to be reasonable, and require that the contingent fee agreement be in writing and signed by the client and attorney.

Most every auto accident and personal injury  attorneys in Albuquerque, NM  charges a contingency fee of  33 1/3% for all injury cases that are settled prior to a lawsuit being filed. This seems a little steep, especially because so little work is done by the attorney before the lawsuit is filed. Most of the initial gathering of medical records and establishing of liability are done by a paralegal or legal assistant supervised by the attorney.  However, if a lawsuit is filed because the case could not be settled, then the attorney has much more involvement in the claim.

Beginning in 2009 Caruso Law Offices pioneered a new approach to attorneys fees in Albuquerque, NM.  In compliance with the "reasonable fee" requirement of the Rules and knowing that less work was required to settle a case if no lawsuit was yet file, we discounted our percentage contingency fee.  We discount the contingency fee to only 29% if a case is settled before a lawsuit is filed.

The result is that more money goes into the  client's pocket! It also means quicker settlements for clients. As an example, using a settlement of a $50,000 case, the attorney fee would be $14,500 rather than $16,666.  That's $2,100 more into the client's pocket rather than the attorney's pocket.

The response from clients to the discounted contingency fee has been amazing. Caruso Law Offices receives most of its personal injury client referrals from word of mouth, and little advertising is really needed.

Some might believe that a discounted fees means a lesser qualified attorney or law firm. Not so! Mark Caruso, the senior attorney at Caruso Law Offices,  is a former insurance company attorney who now helps injured victims.  He has over 30 years of experience helping injured victims. He is also licensed in both New Mexico and California. Because Caruso Law Offices does not do television, billboard or bus advertising, its overhead is smaller, and it can help the client by putting more money in the client's pocket. Helping the clients should be the number one priority of every attorney, and it is the priority at Caruso Law Offices.

The discount really means  that the attorney isn't spending lots of money on advertising and can afford to pass the savings to his clients.  Advertising is an expensive overhead.  Freeway billboards can cost $5,000 a month, and some attorney television budgets are $20,000 monthly.  The advertising does not mean that the attorney is a better attorney, only that he is spending more on advertising and probably charging the higher 33 1/3% fee rather than the discounted 29% fee.

If you would like to personally talk with Mark Caruso at  a free and confidential consultation, you can call him at 505-883-5000 or toll free at 800-657-9292. We have two locations in Albuquerque--the NorthEast Heights and the West Side.  You can also see our web site at We look forward to hearing from you. Thanks. Mark