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

Friday, July 23, 2010

Albuquerque, New Mexico Insurance Companies Unfair Evaluation of Claims

Time for insurance adjusters to be fair in evaluation of personal injury claims.

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

Ever since the financial collapse of 2008, insurance companies have become stingier and stingier on the amount of settlement that are being offered on personal injury claims. Insurance adjusters claim that they "just don't have as much money as they used to" as the reason for this failure to pay the full value of claims.

The question I want to discuss today is, What is the fair evaluation of a personal injury claim with soft tissue injuries. Let's say that you are involved in an accident with significant property damage to your vehicle. You don't have a prior history of back or neck problems. You are taken by ambulance to the emergency room, examined, given x-rays and prescription drugs, told that you have a neck/back strain injury and sent home. A few days later you go to a chiropracter and treat for a few months. You don't miss any work. You feel great when released by the doctor. Let's also assume that your medical bills are at about $8,000.00

Given these limited facts, I would value the case at about $24,000 but most insurance companies would offer you $12,000--less than half the amount of my value. Am I wrong in my valuation, or is the insurance company wrong?

I believe the only way to determine the true value of the case is to base the value on prior experience. I routinely take cases to trial and arbitration. I can say definitively that this case would result in an award of about $24,000 I have done this time after time with the same result. CASES ARE STILL WORTH THREE TIMES THE MEDICAL BILLS if you have clear liability, significant property damage, good medical care of soft tissue injuries (whiplash, etc).

As lawyers, we cannot accept amounts less than the real value of the case, and we must be willing to litigate cases to get our clients the amount that our clients deserve--the true value of the case.

I am continuing to accept new clients, and as a former insurance company attorney with 28 years of experience, I believe that I can get my clients the maximum amount of money from the insurance company.

Call me at 505-883-5000 or toll free at 800-657-9292 or contact me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Caruso