The cost to hire a medical malpractice lawyer depends on the attorney you retain and the value of your claim. Most medical malpractice lawyers operate on a contingency basis, whereby they collect a fraction of the money you receive in a settlement or court award. They do not collect any legal fees if your case is unsuccessful.
Medical malpractice lawyers generally do not charge for initial consultations. You can use a free consultation to learn whether you have a strong medical malpractice claim. You can also learn the process your prospective medical malpractice lawyer would use to maximize your chances of receiving compensation. Then, you can assess your interaction with at least three lawyers to determine who is a perfect fit for you.
Upfront Cost to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If no lawyer is willing to enter a contingency-fee agreement for your medical malpractice case, then you might have a weak case. Medical malpractice lawyers often take cases they are highly likely to win.
If you work with a lawyer who charges upfront, you will be required to pay a retainer. The lawyer will start working on your case soon after you pay a retainer. You might also be required to make payments every month until the case is resolved.
Ensure you get an impartial review of the strengths and weaknesses of your case before paying an upfront fee. Ask the lawyer to discuss the potential fees and costs of litigating the case in court versus settling it out of court. The objective is to choose an option that will give you a maximum return on your investment (upfront fees).
Common Medical Malpractice Fee Arrangements
Most lawyers handle medical malpractice cases on a contingency fee arrangement. In this arrangement, your medical malpractice lawyer will get a percentage of the compensation recovered as attorney fees. Your lawyer does not get any fees if settlement talks fail and you lose at trial.
Different lawyers have different medical malpractice fee arrangements. The most common fee arrangement is 33% of the money recovered in a case. Some arrangements adjust the percentages depending on the stage at which compensation is obtained. An arrangement might specify a 33% contingency fee for a case that settles out-of-court and 40% for one that resolves at trial.
Contingency fee arrangements also specify who pays other expenses associated with a medical malpractice case. These expenses include court-imposed filing fees, costs of obtaining certified medical records, and costs of hiring expert medical witnesses. Most arrangements specify that the lawyer will cover other case expenses out-of-pocket and recover them from any compensation obtained.
Example of a Contingency Fee Arrangement
Let’s assume your fee arrangement provides that your lawyer’s legal fee is 33% after recovering other case expenses.
- You win the case and receive an award of $120,000.
- Expenses associated with your case amount to $20,000.
- The lawyer deducts the case expenses from the award and leaves $100,000.
- You will receive $67,000 after subtracting the attorney fees of $33,000, which represents 33% of $100,000.
What Is a Contingency Fee Structure?
A contingency fee structure is a payment arrangement whereby a lawyer only gets paid after successfully representing a client. In other words, payment of attorney fees is contingent on the case outcome. The lawyer usually receives a fixed percentage of the money received by the client after winning or settling a case. Contingency fee structures are frequently used in personal injury cases like medical malpractice.
A contingency fee structure should be a written document signed and dated by a client. It must provide a method for determining the fee. It must also outline all the client’s duties, including the expenses the client is responsible for paying.
Do You Need to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
You still need legal support even if you think you can handle your claim yourself. Satisfying the legal requirements of your claim while recuperating from your injury can be hard. You might also make errors at the initial stage of the process that compromises your ability to recover compensation for your losses. The court, for instance, might dismiss your case if you miss your state-specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims.
Working with a knowledgeable lawyer allows you to navigate the case effortlessly and stand a better chance of securing maximum compensation. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you do the following:
Understand Your Rights and the Best Legal Option
A lawyer who knows how to differentiate medical malpractice facts from myths can review the specifics of your medical malpractice case. The lawyer can then discuss your rights and available legal options. The lawyer can also help you choose the best legal option for your situation.
File all the Required Paperwork
A lawyer can help you navigate the confusing legal terms and the mountain of paperwork associated with medical malpractice cases. Your lawyer will be familiar with all the required documents in your case, how to obtain and organize them, and how to file them properly and timely.
Determine the Accurate Value of Your Claim
A lawyer who has dedicated his or her legal career to medical malpractice cases can calculate the value of your claim accurately. The lawyer can work closely with several professionals to determine a compensation amount that will cover the full extent of your losses. These professionals include expert medical witnesses, economists, and investigators.
Handle Insurance Companies
A lawyer can handle all communications with the liable medical provider’s insurer on your behalf. The lawyer can also initiate settlement talks by sending a well-written demand letter to the insurer. That way, you can focus on getting the appropriate treatment and recovering from your injuries without worrying about the claims process.
Get the Highest Compensation Possible
Your lawyer will assemble the evidence for your case. The lawyer will then present your case during negotiations with the insurer to help you secure the highest settlement possible. If necessary, your lawyer will move to court and fight to maximize your chances of a successful court award. Once the settlement is awarded, you can calculate the cost of hiring a medical malpractice lawyer.