How do I pay the attorney for my medical malpractice case?
All states allow a plaintiff to retain an attorney for a personal injury or death case on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney will receive a percentage of the money that is recovered in the case. In most personal injury cases, attorneys can legally charge up to a 40% fee based on the total recovery.
However, in medical malpractice and negligence cases, some states provide statutes to cap attorney's fees. This statutory cap may be in the form of a sliding scale, which means the percentage paid to the attorney depends on the recovered amount. Another statutory cap is a set percentage should the award be over a certain amount. In a few states, the attorney's fees are reviewed by the courts for "reasonableness." Also, these fees are paid from the net recovery after costs, rather than from the total recovery.
The sliding scale for attorney fee recovery in a contingent fee case gives the attorney a greater percentage of the fee for cases that are settled for less. As a result, it is important for a client with a very substantial claim to have an attorney who is able and willing to pursue the case to a reasonable recovery, even though the attorney fee may be reduced. A contingency fee agreement allows victims who cannot afford an attorney access to the courts and best possible representation. In cases involving minors or disabled adults, the court must approve any settlement, including the fee for the attorney.