Sure you can.
But before you try and do that, it's important for you to understand how an attorney gets paid in a car accident case or medical malpractice case or a wrongful death case here in New York.
Did you know that the attorney you hire only gets paid if he obtains a result for you? Only if he is successful and gets you compensation does the attorney get a percentage of whatever he is able to obtain for you.
Who pays that?
Your attorney. Legally, that is known as a disbursement.
The lawyer pays out all the expenses with the expectation and hope that he's able to get a successful result for you. Only then does he get reimbursed for all of the expenses he paid out over the course of your litigation.
Imagine a company that sold weight-loss products. What if they had a payment plan where they only got paid if you implemented their program and you lost 10 pounds? Do you think they would be successful?
What if companies allowed you to buy their products and use them for months to decide whether or not you liked them and do what they claim to do. Only if you like it would you then have to pay for the product or service.
You rarely find any professional service provider such as an attorney who only gets paid if they obtain the results for you.
Imagine if a doctor only got paid if he saved a patient's life.
Imagine if a police officer only got paid if he prevented a crime.
Imagine if a teacher only got paid if her students got into Harvard.
Imagine if basketball player only got paid if he scored 30 points a game.
Why would any attorney in his right mind allow this to happen? Why would an attorney wait 2-3 years before getting paid for all the work that he does during that time?
Legally, the attorney works on a contingency fee. This means that he only earns money if he is able to get you a successful result.
Okay, let's turn it around.
What happens if the attorney is unsuccessful?
The attorney has now spent two to three years prosecuting your lawsuit and paying thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses to handle your case.
If you don't get a result, can you ask for your money back?
Well, sure you can.
You didn't pay a dime to the attorney upfront to prosecute your case. You didn't pay any of the expenses.
If the lawyer is not successful and you do not get a dime in compensation, then the attorney gets exactly what you got. Actually, he gets a lot less. Not only is he out all of the money he spent to prosecute your case, but all of his time, energy and resources to prosecute your case and take it through trial are gone, never to be recovered again.
The attorney will never get back his expenses that he paid to prosecute your case. It's a lose-lose situation for the attorney.
For you, the injured victim, you've lost your dignity. But if you lose your case, you, as the injured victim, have spent no money to prosecute your case and have also lost no money to prosecute your case.
You simply walk away from it having been no worse for wear. Your attorney on the other hand has lost money, time and energy that he could have spent prosecuting other cases in his office.
You might have been under the impression that the attorney had obtained many successful results before and was using that to entice you to hire him as your lawyer.
No lawyer can never promise that you will get compensated when you bring a lawsuit. Any lawyer who does that is simply wrong and setting up an ethical violation for himself and his law firm.
Lawyers who work on contingency in these types of accident and injury cases only get paid if they are able to obtain a successful result for you. They only get paid if they recover money to help compensate you for your injuries.
The reason why this fee arrangement came about was because more than 50 years ago the only way to hire an attorney to represent you was to pay an hourly fee to an attorney. Many injured victims simply did not have money to pay an attorney an hourly fee.
Injured victims were then unable to hire the best lawyer possible to help them get compensated for the injuries they were now left with.
As an alternative fee arrangement, someone came up with the idea that rather than charge an hourly fee for people who could not afford their fees, why don't they simply pay a percentage of whatever they are ultimately able to recover?
This idea created this specific fee arrangement.
This 'crazy' fee arrangement provides an incentive for the attorney to do everything possible to obtain a successful result for the injured victim. If the attorney does not do everything possible, then there is a great likelihood that he will either lose the case or obtain compensation that is significantly less than what your injuries are worth.
That means he will get less of an attorney's fee if he obtains less compensation. The more money he recovers for you, the more money he is able to take as his fee.
To answer the question raised in the title above, does this fee arrangement have a moneyback guarantee?
It's a trick question because the injured victim doesn't pay any money to the attorney throughout the lawsuit process. So if he didn't pay any money at all during the course of a lawsuit, and no attorney can ever guarantee a particular result, if he loses his case, then there is nothing to return to the injured victim since he never paid any money to begin with.