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Partly Cloudy,59°
Monday, September 15, 2014

Thinking of hiring a law firm to fight your insurance company? Know what you're getting into.
(Page 2 of 3)
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
If you are thinking of hiring an attorney post-Hurricane Sandy, it is imperative that you understand the terms of the law firm’s contract .

You should consider what benefits are derived from hiring a law firm to do public adjustment work. Public adjusters must be licensed in New York State and must disclose that you have 72 hours to void an agreement with them. Attorneys do not face those restrictions. Perhaps most importantly, an adjustor cannot charge more than 12.5 percent of the recovery amount and they usually charge less. If you will be required to pay more than 12.5 percent, you should ask what justifies such a rate.

Additionally, law firms that also provide construction (or other non-legal) services may risk conflicts of interest. The best legal representation will likely come from an attorney whose sole job is to focus on providing legal services. You do not want an attorney distracted with other aspects of your case or wondering how to profit from you in ways other than through providing traditional legal services. It also seems intuitive that the best construction will be from one whose sole job is to focus on that. When an attorney’s allegiance appears to be to a contractor — or anyone else other than you — you risk complicating an already confusing area.

That said, there might be circumstances where a one-stop shop is appropriate. Be sure you know exactly who will be doing each stage of the work and the qualifications those people possess. You are also entitled to know whether the attorney receives referral fees for the other services provided under the agreement.

Who will perform your work?

Some agreements allow a law firm to outsource your case — or parts of it — to an unnamed attorney. That is unacceptable. You are entitled to know exactly who will be working on your case and his/her credentials. Because there is a high likelihood that a local attorney will appear in court on your behalf, you should certainly know the identity and qualifications of that individual.

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