Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

New Jersey Attorney's Fees Recovery Facts


Read below to learn more about this topic.

Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation about what the Law Office of Paul DePetris might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris at paul@newjerseylemon.com.

The information in this article is only for New Jersey Law Division, Civil Part cases and not for other New Jersey court cases, such as those in New Jersey Special Civil Court, New Jersey Small Claims Court or New Jersey Chancery Court!!! Do not use this article if you have a New Jersey Special Civil Court, New Jersey Small Claims Court or New Jersey Chancery Court case!!! Also, no website is a substitute for competent advice from a New Jersey lawyer!

Warning – this article does not necessarily include each and every New Jersey court rule that may apply to your New Jersey case! The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions of the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not been amended, repealed or superseded by other federal or state law. The New Jersey Statutes, United States Statutes, New Jersey Administrative Code and Federal Code in this database are not annotated. Accordingly, this database may include laws that: (1) never became operable due to unmet conditions; (2) expired; (3) were repealed or amended; (4) were declared void by a court of law; (5) or are otherwise invalid. Further, effective dates of the laws are not necessarily included in the database. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website contained in this database for any purpose and before taking any legal measures, you instead should read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney for any changes in the laws. Be certain to cross reference all applicable rules before preparing, filing or serving any papers!!! For example, Special Civil Part Rules often cross reference other rules – rules that apply to Special Civil Part Cases as well as to other types of civil cases not being heard in Special Civil Part.

NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARDS

ARE PARTIES INVOLVED IN NEW JERSEY LAWSUITS AUTOMATICALLY ABLE TO RECOVER THEIR NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY’S FEES?
New Jersey follows the American Rule. The American Rule generally prevents a New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant from recovering a New Jersey attorney fee award in that litigation. Under that Rule, society is best served by having parties to lawsuits pay their own legal expenses. This is consistent with the laws of most other states throughout the United States. In New Jersey there is no “automatic” recovery of New Jersey attorneys’ fees. Instead, to recover New Jersey attorney’s fees, a party involved in a lawsuit must find a law, a court rule or caselaw or contract clause that supports their claim to recover New Jersey attorney’s fees.

WHEN IS A NEW JERSEY PLAINTIFF OR NEW JERSEY DEFENDANT ABLE TO RECOVER A NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARD?
New Jersey attorney fee awards are available to plaintiffs and defendants if they “prevail” under a law, a court rule or caselaw or contract clause that supports their claim to recover New Jersey attorney’s fees. To obtain a New Jersey attorney fee award, the party seeking the award normally must prove that they won in the underlying case. A New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant will be considered prevailing if they succeed on any significant issue in a New Jersey case l which achieves some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing a New Jersey lawsuit or defending against a New Jersey lawsuit as may be appropriate. Normally, to win a New Jersey attorney fee award, a New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant must prove that: (1) the New Jersey lawyer's efforts were "necessary and important" factors in prevailing; and (2) "the relief granted to the New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant had some basis in law."

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE NEW JERSEY COURT RULES AND NEW JERSEY LAWS UNDER WHICH PARTIES TO NEW JERSEY LAWSUITS MAY RECOVER NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARDS?
The following are just of the few of the New Jersey Court Rules or New Jersey Laws that may allow New Jersey lawsuit parties to win New Jersey attorney fee awards:

• New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act
• New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
• New Jersey Family Action Court Rules
• New Jersey Frivolous Litigation Law
• New Jersey Frivolous Pleading Or Paper Court Rule
• New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
• New Jersey Lemon Law – New Car Lemon Law
• New Jersey Lemon Law – Used Car Lemon Law
• New Jersey Open Public Records Act
• New Jersey Special Civil Part Law (usually only a small portion of the New Jersey lawyer’s fee is recoverable as stated in the Law itself)

NEW JERSEY AGREEMENTS BETWEEN PARTIES INVOLVED IN NEW JERSEY LAWSUITS MAY INCLUDE A CLAUSE REQUIRING A DEBTOR OR THE LOSING PARTY TO PAY THE SUCCESSFUL PARTY’S NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY’S FEES
The New Jersey Court Rules allow an award of New Jersey attorney’s fees permitted by a New Jersey contract. Parties to a contract are permitted to agree to shift liability for New Jersey attorney's fees. Therefore, New Jersey attorney fee awards may be allowed where the parties have agreed to New Jersey attorney fee awards in advance by stipulation in a promissory note, power of attorney or other agreement or contract. Often New Jersey credit card agreements, New Jersey employment contracts or New Jersey real estate contracts have clauses requiring one party to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees.

IF A NEW JERSEY COURT DECIDES THAT A NEW JERSEY PLAITNIFF OR NEW JERSEY DEFENDANT IS ALLOWED TO WIN A NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARD, CAN THAT PARTY RECOVER WHATEVER AMOUNT OF NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY’S FEES THAT THEY WANT TO?
New Jersey attorney fee request must receive New Jersey court approval. New Jersey attorney fee awards must always meet the New Jersey court’s test for reasonableness. Otherwise, the New Jersey attorney fee request may be totally denied or partially denied. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a New Jersey attorney’s fee include the following:
• (1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
• (2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
• (3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
• (4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
• (5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
• (6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
• (7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;
• (8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

But the fact that a New Jersey attorney fee award may be much higher than the damages awarded is not necessarily always important. In the right situation, a New Jersey attorney fee award can be much higher than the actual damages that the New Jersey court awards a party. If a New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant is only partly successful but is still entitled to a New Jersey attorney fee award, a New Jersey court may reduce a New Jersey attorney fee award in proportion to limited relief recovered by the New Jersey plaintiff or New Jersey defendant.
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ARE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY’S FEES RECOVERABLE IN NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART CASES?
Under a New Jersey Law governing the New Jersey Special Civil Part, it may be possible to recover attorney’s fees other than those fees recoverable under any other court rule, law, contract clause or caselaw. There shall be taxed by the clerk of the Superior Court, Law Division, Special Civil Part in the costs against the judgment debtor, a fee to the New Jersey lawyer of the prevailing party, of five per centum (5%) of the first five hundred dollars ($500.00) of the judgment, and two per centum (2%) of any excess thereof. In actions of replevin the court shall allow the New Jersey lawyer of the prevailing party a fee of not less than five dollars ($5.00) nor more than ten dollars ($10.00), to be taxed and collected as aforesaid. Upon entry of any order adjudging a person in contempt for violation of any order of the court or upon any motion or application to the court made subsequent to the commencement of an action or proceeding in the Special Civil Part, the court, in its discretion, may award an attorney or counsel fee of not more than ten dollars ($10.00) to be paid in such manner as the court shall direct.

IN A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART CASE, IF I AM ALLOWED TO RECOVER MY NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY’S FEES, CAN THOSE FEES EXCEED THE LIMIT OF NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART DAMAGES?
In the New Jersey Special Civil Part, parties are not able to recover damages in excess of $15,000. This is called the New Jersey Special Civil Part jurisdictional limit”. But in many New Jersey Special Civil Part cases, New Jersey attorney fee awards are not able to be calculated when the lawsuit is filed. The New Jersey Special Civil Part jurisdictional limit only applies to damages and therefore, does not normally apply to New Jersey attorney’s fees that a party must pay to litigate a New Jersey Special Civil Part case in which that party seeks to recover New Jersey attorney’s fees. New Jersey attorney’s fees are unable to be calculated before the lawsuit is filed or before the defense of the case is over. Accordingly, it is possible to win a Special Civil Part case and recover $15,000 in damages plus an additional $10,000 in New Jersey attorney’s fees. Also, in New Jersey Special Civil Part, it is possible to recover New Jersey attorney’s fees for collecting a judgment.

ARE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARDS AVAILABLE IN NEW JERSEY TORT CASES?
There are two types of civil cases in New Jersey – “tort” cases and “contract” cases. A New Jersey “tort” case is a category or type of case other than one based upon a contract. A New Jersey car accident property damage case is a “tort” case when the parties involved in the case do not have some type of contract with one another.

In certain types of New Jersey tort cases, New Jersey attorney fee awards are available. Because there are so many exceptions and technicalities involved in New Jersey attorney’s fee awards in New Jersey tort cases, before deciding whether your New Jersey tort case may allow you to win a New Jersey attorney’s fee award, you should consult with a New Jersey attorney. The American Rule does not prohibit a New Jersey attorney’s fee award where they are incurred as an element of damages in a particular cause of action. For example, in New Jersey attorney malpractice cases, a party that is found to be a victim of the New Jersey attorney malpractice may recover a New Jersey attorney’s fee award. A negligent New Jersey attorney is responsible for the reasonable legal expenses and a New Jersey attorney fee award for New Jersey attorney fees incurred by a former client in prosecuting the New Jersey legal malpractice action. Also, in a New Jersey malicious prosecution case, a party that is found to be a victim of a New Jersey malicious prosecution may recover their attorney’s fees from the wrongdoer. Also, , an award of New Jersey attorney’s fees may be allowed against any New Jersey fiduciary who profits as the result of exertion of undue influence on the testator or trust settlor.

If a party to a New Jersey lawsuit must pay New Jersey attorneys' fees in litigation with a third party, those New Jersey attorney’s fees that are due to the New Jersey litigation with the third party may be recovered in the appropriate New Jersey tort case. For example, if a New Jersey plaintiff has been forced because of the wrongful conduct of a tortfeasor to institute litigation against a third party, the New Jersey plaintiff can recover the New Jersey attorney’s fees incurred in that litigation from the tortfeasor.

The following is an example of this type of recovery of New Jersey attorney’s fees. A New Jersey plaintiff successfully sued a New Jersey defendant for egregious malpractice. The New Jersey plaintiff recovered a New Jersey judgment, including both compensatory and punitive damages, and sought to satisfy the judgment out of the New Jersey defendant's assets. But the New Jersey defendant divested himself of all assets other than those that could not be used to satisfy the New Jersey judgment. The New Jersey plaintiff filed suit against the New Jersey defendant, his wife, and his three adult sons, alleging that the New Jersey defendant fraudulently conveyed the assets to those family members to avoid satisfying the New Jersey plaintiff's judgment. The New Jersey plaintiff requested a New Jersey attorney fee award. The New Jersey court first noted the general rule that New Jersey parties bear the burden of paying their own New Jersey attorney fees. The New Jersey court then noted, however, that if the commission of a tort proximately causes litigation with parties other than the tortfeasor, the New Jersey plaintiff is entitled to recover damages measured by the expense of that New Jersey litigation with third parties. Applying that rule, the New Jersey court concluded that although the New Jersey plaintiff may not recover his New Jersey litigation expenses for litigating with the New Jersey defendant that allegedly committed the fraudulent transfers to establish that his transfers were fraudulent, the New Jersey plaintiff was entitled to a New Jersey attorney fee award for reasonable New Jersey attorneys' fees expended in litigating with third parties, including the other New Jersey defendants, to void or set aside the transfers. Accordingly, the New Jersey plaintiff was not entitled to New Jersey attorneys' fees for the costs incurred in litigating directly against the New Jersey defendant, but he was entitled to New Jersey attorneys' fees for the costs incurred in litigating the validity of the transfers against the New Jersey defendant's wife and sons.

Another example of a New Jersey plaintiff being able to win a New Jersey attorney fee award occurred in a New Jersey trust case. In that New Jersey case and based upon its unique facts, the New Jersey court held that when an executor or trustee reaps a substantial economic or financial benefit from undue influence, the fiduciary may face responsibility for a New Jersey attorney fee award incurred by the New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey third parties in litigation to restore the estate’s assets to what they would have been had the undue influence not occurred.

IF I BELIEVE THAT I SHOULD WIN A NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY FEE AWARD, HOW DO I ASK THE NEW JERSEY COURT FOR A NEW JERSEY FEE AWARD?
When a New Jersey Plaintiff or a New Jersey Defendant makes a New Jersey attorney fee award request, it is usually done by a New Jersey motion for attorney’s fees, also called a New Jersey attorney fee application. A New Jersey attorney fee award made on the determination of a New Jersey case shall be included in the New Jersey judgment or New Jersey order stating the determination. In certain situations, the New Jersey motion for attorney’s fees must be made in a specific time frame (such as 20 days) or else the New Jersey court may deny the New Jersey motion for attorney’s fees or New Jersey attorney fee application as being too late. Consult with a New Jersey attorney before making a New Jersey motion for attorney’s fees or a New Jersey attorney fee application.

Except in tax and mortgage foreclosure actions, all New Jersey attorney fee applications shall be supported by an affidavit of services addressing the factors enumerated by New Jersey RPC 1.5(a). Those factors are:
• (1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
• (2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
• (3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
• (4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
• (5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
• (6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
• (7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;
• (8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.


The New Jersey affidavit shall also include a recitation of other factors pertinent in the evaluation of the services rendered, the amount of the allowance applied for, and an itemization of disbursements for which reimbursement is sought. If the court is requested to consider the rendition of paraprofessional services in making a fee allowance, the New Jersey affidavit shall include a detailed statement of the time spent and services rendered by paraprofessionals, a summary of the paraprofessionals' qualifications, and the New Jersey lawyer's billing rate for paraprofessional services to clients generally. No portion of any fee allowance claimed for New Jersey attorneys' services shall duplicate in any way the New Jersey attorney’s fees claimed by the New Jersey lawyer for paraprofessional services rendered to the client. For purposes of this rule, "paraprofessional services" shall mean those services rendered by individuals who are qualified through education, work experience or training who perform specifically delegated tasks which are legal in nature under the direction and supervision of attorneys and which tasks an attorney would otherwise be obliged to perform. All New Jersey attorney fee motions and New Jersey attorney fee applications shall state how much had been paid to the New Jersey lawyer (including, in a matrimonial action, the amount, if any, received by the New Jersey lawyer from pendente lite allowances) and what provision, if any, has been made for the payment of New Jersey attorney’s fees to the New Jersey lawyer in the future.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR NEW JERSEY CASE?
Handling your New Jersey case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent New Jersey lawyer!
Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case. Not all New Jersey cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help.

WHY SHOULD NEW JERSEY PRO SE PLAINTIFFS AND NEW JERSEY PRO SE DEFENDANTS SEEK HELP FROM A NEW JERSEY LAWYER?
Handling your New Jersey case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent New Jersey lawyer!
Many New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants make the mistake of not consulting a New Jersey lawyer before filing New Jersey Court papers only to later learn that the New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants made serious mistakes that could cause them to lose their New Jersey case. Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY COURT PERSONNEL FOR LEGAL ADVICE?
New Jersey Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a New Jersey Court judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees. Most New Jersey Court employees are not trained New Jersey attorneys and therefore, they may not know what advice to give you. Working at the New Jersey Court as a non-judge is not the same as practicing law.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY COURT FORMS PROVIDED BY THE NEW JERSEY COURT?
The New Jersey Court usually provides certain types of New Jersey Court legal forms to the public and those forms are often very helpful. However, beware relying on New Jersey Court forms provided by the New Jersey Court – the New Jersey Court forms are often deceptively simple, while New Jersey cases often are much more complex than they first appear to be. There is simply no substitute for a competent New Jersey attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey who has experience handling New Jersey cases. New Jersey Court forms don’t talk and New Jersey Court forms and their directions rarely, if ever, cover every possible situation, set of facts or legal issue that may arise in a New Jersey case. Each New Jersey case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges. If you can afford a competent New Jersey attorney, it is best to have the New Jersey attorney prepare your New Jersey Court paperwork for you.

CAN I HANDLE A NEW JERSEY CASE MYSELF?
Many New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants can and do successfully handle New Jersey cases, from filing the first paperwork to the collection of a New Jersey Court judgment. However, many other New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants also make mistakes that lead to the dismissal of their New Jersey cases or that result in the entry of a New Jersey Court money judgment against them. The greater the money at stake, the greater the reason to consider using the services of a competent attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey to handle part or all of the New Jersey case. The following are reasons to use an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey case:
• New Jersey Court fees often change
• New Jersey Court rules often change
• New Jersey Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a New Jersey Court judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees
• New Jersey Court forms available on websites may not cover every situation you may face in Court
• each New Jersey case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges
• it is very common for New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants to file inadequate or incorrect New Jersey Court complaints that result in the New Jersey Court complaints or answers to New Jersey Court complaints being rejected by the New Jersey Court or being dismissed by the New Jersey Court after filing and before or after trial because of procedural deficiencies.
• it is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the New Jersey case.
• a Court has the power to punish unprepared New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants, such as by throwing their New Jersey case out of Court or limiting what they can present at the New Jersey Court trial.
• New Jersey has many published cases, laws, regulations, Court rules and rules of evidence that can be very tricky to understand and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Court trial.
• it is very common for Courts to refuse to allow a party to use or refer to documents or items at the New Jersey Court trial that the person themselves never prepared. Often New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants stumble into New Jersey Court with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a New Jersey Court judge tell the New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.
• without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Court. Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Court trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to Court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.
• you cannot show up at the New Jersey Court expecting the judge hearing your New Jersey case to explain Court rules, evidence rules, Court procedure or the details of the law that applies to your New Jersey case. The judge hearing your New Jersey case is not permitted to give you legal advice.

It is important to remember that even if you have an attorney, you could lose your New Jersey case. Hiring an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey case does not guarantee your success. However, it may provide what is needed to win your New Jersey case or to avoid certain mistakes.

DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE HANDLING NEW JERSEY CASES?
Yes. Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
• handled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey, from Bergen County New Jersey to Cumberland County New Jersey, including representations of individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
• settled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey.
• reviewed many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
• enforced many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
• provided New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants with New Jersey Court legal advice and prepared New Jersey Court legal forms
• prepared and filed many New Jersey Court complaints
• tried New Jersey Court jury trials
• mediated many New Jersey cases
• argued New Jersey Court motions
• handled New Jersey Court proof hearings
• handled New Jersey Court post judgment collection proceedings

Mr. DePetris has appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey in the following counties:
• Atlantic County New Jersey Court
• Bergen County New Jersey Court
• Burlington County New Jersey Court
• Camden County New Jersey Court
• Cape May County New Jersey Court
• Cumberland County New Jersey Court
• Essex County New Jersey Court
• Gloucester County New Jersey Court
• Hudson County New Jersey Court
• Mercer County New Jersey Court
• Middlesex County New Jersey Court
• Monmouth County New Jersey Court
• Morris County New Jersey Court
• Ocean County New Jersey Court
• Passaic County New Jersey Court
• Salem County New Jersey Court
• Somerset County New Jersey Court
• Sussex County New Jersey Court
• Union County New Jersey Court
• Warren County New Jersey Court

IN WHAT NEW JERSEY COUNTIES WILL THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HANDLE NEW JERSEY CASES?
The Law Office of Paul DePetris offers to handle and help individuals and businesses with New Jersey Court Claims cases in North, Central and Southern New Jersey, including cases in the following New Jersey counties:
• Atlantic County New Jersey Court
• Bergen County New Jersey Court
• Burlington County New Jersey Court
• Camden County New Jersey Court
• Cape May County New Jersey Court
• Cumberland County New Jersey Court
• Essex County New Jersey Court
• Gloucester County New Jersey Court
• Hudson County New Jersey Court
• Mercer County New Jersey Court
• Middlesex County New Jersey Court
• Monmouth County New Jersey Court
• Morris County New Jersey Court
• Ocean County New Jersey Court
• Passaic County New Jersey Court
• Salem County New Jersey Court
• Somerset County New Jersey Court
• Sussex County New Jersey Court
• Union County New Jersey Court
• Warren County New Jersey Court

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HANDLE MY NEW JERSEY CASE FROM BEGINNING TO END?
In many situations, the Law Office of Paul DePetris offers alternatives to handling New Jersey cases for an hourly fee, such as by offering to handle your New Jersey case up to trial for a fixed fee or to help you handle your New Jersey case by yourself. Such flexible methods may allow you to keep the amount legal fees you spend on your New Jersey case to a fixed sum, while providing you the help you need to handle your New Jersey case. For a no obligation phone consultation about what the Firm might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris.

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