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Q: Do lawyers in personal injury firm have billable hours?


A: A: Lawyers who represent injured victims in NY handle cases on ‘contingency’, which means that if there’s a valid case and the law firm takes the case, they will lay out all money and expenses to prosecute the case till a verdict. The lawyer will only receive a fee if they are successful and will only be reimbursed for their expenses if they win your case. If they lose, they do not get any fee even though they may have spent years working on your case and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute your case.

In most cases in State court, lawyers in ‘plaintiff’s’ firms do not have billable hours. A plaintiff is someone who brings a lawsuit against someone who did something wrong, seeing monetary compensation.

On the other hand, the lawyers who represent ‘defendants’, those people and companies who are sued, usually have billable hours and get paid by the hour or by the type of work they do on a particular case.

That’s why there’s never an incentive for a plaintiff’s attorney to prolong or delay a client’s case, since the longer it takes to resolve a case, the longer it takes to obtain a fee and get reimbursed their expenses. Defense attorneys however may have a subtle reason to bill as much as possible if they’re working on an hourly basis. Good defense attorneys do everything possible to save their clients and insurance companies money by trying to settle cases that deserve to settle early; i.e. cases that have good liability and clear injuries and damages.