If you’ve suffered harm or injury as a result of medical malpractice, you might wonder whether or not pursuing a lawsuit would be advantageous. Would the settlement be worth the time, energy, and expenses you will incur during the process? How do you find a qualified medical malpractice lawyer in the first place? And how much will that attorney cost?
Every case is different, and each outcome depends on a myriad of factors (such as the extent of your injuries, the state in which you live, the medical professional’s insurance coverage, and more). But one thing is certain: hiring a medical malpractice lawyer is the first step to filing a successful claim.
How Much Does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Cost?
One of the most important things to know when hiring an attorney is how much they charge, and how they collect legal fees.
Attorneys typically charge in one of two ways. The first way is to bill hourly for their time. When they use this method, they bill for everything they do that impacts your case. If they have a five-minute phone call, the firm bills the client for it. If they research for 52 minutes, they’ll bill for that time, too.
They also bill for any time their staff spends working on your claim. A paralegal’s rate is less per hour than a medical malpractice lawyer, but you must still pay for it. So, if a paralegal organizes files, files paperwork with the court, or does any other work related to your case, they add those fees to your bill.
Attorneys who bill by the hour almost always require a retainer to start work. The average retainer varies case to case but can run thousands of dollars. The attorney will deduct time billed from the retainer. When the retainer reaches a certain threshold, the attorney will most likely require it to be replenished.
The second way attorneys bill for work is on a contingency basis. Contingency means the attorney does not make any profit from your case unless the court decides in your favor.
Typically, when attorneys take a case on contingency, they also absorb all or most costs associated with the case. These might include filing or administrative fees. By working with a contingency-based attorney, you significantly reduce or eliminate your out-of-pocket costs.
The average contingency fee is one-third to 40% of the final settlement cost, but that amount can vary by state or even case to case, depending on different factors.
How Much Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Charge?
If you hire a medical malpractice lawyer on contingency, you typically pay no up-front costs. The attorney will recoup all fees and expenditures only if and when your case wins. Then, the attorney will take a predetermined amount from your settlement award as payment.
The amount the medical malpractice lawyer receives depends on a variety of factors. One of those factors is where you live. There are 16 states that stipulate, via legislation or court rule, a specific limit or sliding scale amount an attorney can charge for a medical malpractice case. Other states allow or require the court to determine fair and reasonable fees for each case. All attorneys that LegalASAP can match you with offer contingency-based representation.
How Much Settlement Money Would I Actually Get?
Successfully litigated medical malpractice cases win awards ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. The average payout typically falls somewhere between $14,000 and $200,000.
For contingency cases, this means the first one-third of your award goes to your attorney for legal fees. They’d also deduct any expenses accrued while working on your case.
An important point to remember is that, in the case of physical injury or wrongful death cases, the settlement award you receive is tax-deductible. This is true whether the case goes to court or your attorney reaches an out-of-court settlement. Meaning, once your medical malpractice lawyer receives all legal fees and expenses, the rest is yours, tax free.
How Do I Know If I Should Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand and navigate the legal system. It’s also the only way to secure any and all legal remedies available to you before the medical malpractice statute of limitations expires. Our attorney-matching service is free for those who successfully qualify for legal assistance. However, you must first complete a free online evaluation to determine if you qualify.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online medical malpractice case evaluation now!
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.