You’re hurt. You call the lawyer who was recommended, and you tell your story. The lawyer calls back a few days later and now sends you to another lawyer.
What just happened? The first lawyer reviewed the file and decided that you will get better representation with another lawyer.
This happens all the time. Referrals sometimes come from lawyers who don’t do personal injury, lawyers who don’t have enough experience to handle complex personal injury cases, lawyers who don’t have the resources to litigate for years before being paid, lawyers who don’t want to bring a case to trial in front of a jury, and lawyers from other states who don’t practice in New Jersey.
What does this mean for your pocket? It’s good news. You just got set up with a lawyer who is a better fit for your case, and it didn’t cost you a penny!
For example, a New Jersey personal injury lawyer or a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer can pay a referral fee to lawyers who send them a case if they are board-certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as certified trial lawyers. If an attorney is looking to refer the case to a New Jersey law firm that does not have a certified civil trial attorney, they can only be paid for the services performed on the case or with the written agreement of the client.
This is a good rule because it is trying to get injured people to lawyers who have experience in trying cases in court in front of juries. That is important because the insurance companies pay more money to clients who are with law firms that try cases in front of juries. Insurance companies are not afraid of lawyers who always settle cases before trial.
Here is how it works for the client. After the case settles or the jury comes back with a verdict for you, the money is divided up in accordance with the retainer agreement. The expenses the lawyer paid to litigate the case are paid back. Then the remaining money is given to the client and the lawyer. The lawyer gets the legal fee. The lawyer must then pay a referral fee from a portion of the legal fee if the case was referred. The client does not pay anything for the referral.
Many of those phone numbers you see on the side of the highway or that pop up on your screen end up being firms or services that take in cases and simply refer them out so that they can collect a referral fee without doing work. That might look more like a business practice than a legal practice which it is for some of those numbers. Hopefully, the clients end up with an attorney best suited for them and their case.
Therefore, when seeking the best attorney to guide you through your personal injury case— even if that attorney comes referred to you by a separate attorney— rest assured the referral will not affect your bottom line.