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Referring Attorneys

Referring Attorneys

O’Cathain Law Group’s Personal Injury Law Department is a referral source for other attorneys. We pay out to attorneys who refer personal injury and medical malpractice to us.

If you are looking to refer a New Jersey personal injury case, here is some information you will want to know.

What do the Rules Allow?

New Jersey lawyers are controlled by the Rules of Professional Conduct and the New Jersey Rules of Court: https://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/rules-of-court

The New Jersey Rules of Court only permit certain attorneys to pay referral fees for personal injury and medical malpractice cases to other attorneys. Rule 1:39-6(d) only permits attorneys who are certified as civil trial attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court to pay referrals fees.

This also means that a New Jersey law firm that does not have a certified civil trial lawyer cannot pay a referral fee to an originating lawyer. 

O’Cathain Law Group is permitted to pay referral fees because partner Domhnall O’Cathain, Esq. is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a civil trial attorney. The referral fee can be paid whether or not the referring attorney does any work on the file.

If you are looking to refer your case to a New Jersey law firm that does not have a certified civil trial attorney, you can only be paid for the services you performed on the case or with the written agreement of the client. In that situation, both lawyers carry joint responsibility to the client.

What is the Legal Fee in New Jersey Injury Cases?

The New Jersey Rules of Court set the limit on what an attorney can charge in a personal injury case and in a medical malpractice case that is done on a contingency fee basis. 

New Jersey has sliding scale contingency fee rule. The current contingency rules are as follows:

33⅓ % of the first $750,000 net recovery

30 % of the next $750,000 net recovery

25% of the next $750,000 net recovery

20% of the next $750,000 net recovery

Fees on net recoveries exceeding $3,000,000 will be determined by the court.

If the client is a minor and/or incapacitated at the time of the retainer, the legal fee is limited to 25% unless the case goes to trial. If the case of the minor and/or incapacitated client goes to trial, the fee goes back to the regular fee set out in the sliding scale above.

Out-of-State Lawyers

O’Cathain Law Group receives referrals and refers cases to attorneys in many states.

Because our Hackensack, New Jersey office is located close to New York City, we receive a large number of our referrals from New York attorneys and southern Connecticut attorneys. 

The majority of our personal injury cases are referrals from attorneys.

We also have represented clients from other countries who were injured while visiting the USA and paid a referral fee to the lawyer in the home country who referred the case.  

Since Covid, the New Jersey courts have been encouraging of doing depositions remotely. Therefore, an out of state client might only need to come to New Jersey for a defense medical exam and/or for trial.

New Jersey Lawyer Referrals

Other New Jersey lawyers are a constant source of referrals for us.

The New Jersey lawyers who refer cases include the following:

  • New Jersey lawyers who do not practice personal injury law and who receive a personal injury inquiry from a current or former client.
  • New Jersey lawyers who do not practice personal injury law and who receive an inquiry about personal injury.
  • New Jersey personal injury lawyers who have a conflict of interest in representing one or more potential clients e.g., a driver and a passenger involved in a crash who are in the same car. 
  • New Jersey personal injury lawyers who are not comfortable bringing a all the way to a jury verdict.
  • New Jersey personal injury lawyers who do not normally practice in federal court.

The Case Got Too Big

O’Cathain Law Group is available to evaluate a personal injury case or a medical malpractice case if the attorney currently handling the case is concerned that the case is getting too big. 

Domhnall O’Cathain has substituted in to take over cases where the attorney was not experienced enough to litigate the case. He has also stepped in as trial counsel for other law firms when the case is being marked for trial.

We know that the original attorney has put extensive time and money into the case. Our aim is to work with the referring attorney to help maximize the result for the client. 

Can Anybody Else Get a Referral Fee?

Non-lawyers are not permitted to get a referral fee. However, a certified civil trial lawyer in New Jersey can pay a referral fee to the estate of a referring attorney if the referring lawyer passes away before the referral fee is paid.

10 Things You Should Know About New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuits if You are Thinking about Referring the Case.

  1. Statute of Limitations: 2 Years (within 2 Years of the 18thBirthday if a minor at the time)
  2. Notice of Claim: 90 days (form for claim against State of New Jerseyavailable online)
  3. No Verbal Threshold if Defendant is Operating Commercial Vehicle
  4. Plaintiff Friendly Counties in North New Jersey: Essex, Hudson, and Middlesex
  5. Defendant Friendly Counties in North New Jersey:  Morris and Sussex
  6. Venue: County Where any Party Resides at the Time the Lawsuit is Filed
  7. Dog Bite: New Jersey is a Strict Liability State – No Free Bites.
  8. Joint & Several: Defendant is Joint and Severally liable if 60% or More at Fault
  9. Comparative Negligence of Plaintiff: No Recovery if More at Fault than Defendant
  10.  Insurance Disclosure: Request must be made by a New Jersey Licensed Attorney.

On-Line Resources for You to Preliminarily Evaluate a Potential New Jersey Lawsuit

New Jersey Distinctions:

  • Soft Injury Threshold Exceptions in Motor Vehicle Accidents:
    • 1 of the 6 statutory exceptions:
      • Death
      • Dismemberment
      • Significant Scarring or Significant Scarring
      • Broken Bone
      • Loss of Unborn Child
      • Permanent Injury – has not healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment.

5.33 Limitation on Lawsuit Option (njcourts.gov)

  • Defendant is operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the crash.
  • Plaintiff elected “No Limitation on Lawsuit” or “No Threshold” option.
  • Plaintiff is person who is not required to carry PIP (Person Injury Protection a/k/a No-Fault) e.g. pedestrian or passenger
  • Out of State resident whose insurance carrier does not do business in New Jersey.
  • UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured):
    • Longworth approval needed from UM/UIM carrier before settling the underlying case. Longworth v. Van Houten, 223 N.J. Super. 174 (App. Div. 1988)
  • Bad Faith
    • Failure to tender the policy can lift the policy limits if the defense acts in bad faith.
    • “In view of the duty of the insurer to act in good faith, the resolution can lead to but one fair result: Both interests can be served justly only if the insurer treats any settlement offer as if it had full coverage for whatever verdict might be recovered, regardless of policy limits, and makes its decision to settle or go to trial on that basis.” Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. of America, 65 N.J. 474, 323 A. 2d 495 (1974).
  • Medical Malpractice – Affidavit of Merit
    • Required within 60 days of the Answer being filed unless extended to 120 days.
    • Failure to File an Affidavit of Merit will result in dismissal of the claim unless it falls into very narrow exceptions.
  • Discovery
    • Time
      • 300 Days for Personal Injury and Auto
      • 450 Days for Medical Malpractice and Product Liability
      • Automatic 60-day extension if requested
      • At the discretion of the judge thereafter
      • Good Cause to be shown if motion to extend made before the end of discovery.
      • Exceptional circumstances to be shown to extend discovery once an arbitration or trial date is scheduled.
    • Conferences
      • No Preliminary Conference or Compliance Conference
      • Case Management Conferences occasionally provided depending on complexity of case.
    • Interrogatories
      • Uniform Interrogatories to be Answered by All Parties
    • Motions
    • Expert Reports:
      • Served Within Discovery Time; Otherwise with R 4:17-7 Certification
  • Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration
    • Required Personal Injury and Automobile Cases
    • Non in Medical Malpractice Cases
    • Binding Unless Trial de Novo Filed with Court and Served on Parties Within 30 Days

Contact Us

Have a good case to refer to a New Jersey trial lawyer? Call (201) 488-1161 and ask to speak with Domhnall (Donny) O’Cathain, Esq. who heads the Personal Injury Law Department.

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