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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cost


How Much Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cost?

 
 average costMedium: A Personal Injury Lawyer May Charge 20-40% of the Settlement 
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A medical malpractice[1] lawsuit can be filed against doctors but also against any type of health care professional, including a hospital. Generally medical malpractice cases are complex and highly technical.

Typical costs:

  • Medical malpractice lawyers usually take cases on a contingency basis, charging 20-40 percent of any final settlement or court judgment; you only pay these legal fees if you win. The percentage is negotiated in advance, based on prevailing rates in your area, the expected length and complexity of the case, the amount of money expected to be awarded and, in some cases, the lawyer's experience and reputation. Some attorneys have a schedule of fees, such as 25 percent if the case settles before going to trial, 33 percent if it goes to trial and 40 percent of the final settlement/judgment if the case is appealed. Some states have sliding-scale maximums based on the amount of the settlement/judgment, such as 33.3 percent for the first $300,000, 25 percent for the next $300,000, and increasingly lower percentages as the total amount increases.
  • Ongoing expenses to prepare and mount a medical malpractice case average around $20,000-$50,000, but in complicated situations it can be $50,000-$100,000 and up for costs such as expert medical testimony, obtaining extensive records or using technology to demonstrate the negligence and injury. Usually the attorney will pay these out-of-pocket costs and be reimbursed out of the settlement/judgment.
Related articles: Product Liability Attorney, Asbestos Attorney

What should be included:
  • Medical malpractice cases are expensive and difficult, and attorneys are selective about their clients. An attorney may accept your case tentatively, with a permanent commitment based on the results of a thorough investigation and review of the medical records. A medical malpractice suit must prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship; the doctor did something no reasonable doctor would have done under similar circumstances; the patient was injured (or killed); and the doctor's errors caused the injury. FindLaw.com discusses proving fault[2] in medical malpractice cases and who can be sued[3] .
  • Suing for medical malpractice can be a long, difficult process, and you may find yourself answering very personal questions for the record, and spending a lot of time working with your attorney. Some cases can be quickly settled, but on average they take 2-3 years until a jury reaches an initial verdict -- and most health care providers will appeal any decision against them, which adds another year or more to the litigation process. ExpertLaw.com provides a brief overview[4] of medical malpractice.
  • Each state has a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. FindLaw.com summarizes medical malpractice laws[5] by state.
Additional costs:
  • There can be an initial charge of $500-$3,000 or more (depending on location and complexity) for a lawyer to consult with a medical expert to determine if you have a valid malpractice claim. Also, be sure you clearly understand whether you will have to pay any of the out-of-pocket expenses if you lose the case and don't receive a settlement/judgment.
  • It's important to know if the lawyer's percentage will be calculated before or after the medical bills are paid and other expenses reimbursed.
Shopping for a medical malpractice lawsuit:
  • Ask about the lawyer's experience with medical malpractice cases, especially your specific circumstances. Ask how each attorney stays abreast of current medical issues, if they have the financial resources, if necessary, to take the case trial, and how many medical malpractice cases they've taken to trial. FindLaw.com lists documents to show your attorney[6] and Lawyers.com explains how to select[7] a personal injury lawyer.
  • If you already work with an attorney in another field of law, ask for a recommendation for a good medical malpractice lawyer. Referrals are also available at Lawyers.com[8] and FindLaw.com[9] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written agreement outlining all costs. Be sure you understand exactly how and when the legal fees will be deducted from any settlement/judgment you receive, what other costs might be paid out of your settlement/judgment, and if you are responsible for any expenses if you lose the case.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/malpract...
  2.  injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/proving-fault-in-medical-malpractice-cases.html
  3.  injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/proving-fault-in-medical-malpractice-cases.html
  4.  www.expertlaw.com/library/malpractice/malpractice.html
  5.  injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/state-law-summaries-medical-malpractice-and-refo...
  6.  injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/documents-for-your-attorney-illness-hospitalizat...
  7.  personal-injury.lawyers.com/Personal-Injury-Basics/Personal-Injury-Selecting-a-Good-Law...
  8.  www.lawyers.com/medical-malpractice/find-law-firms-by-location/
  9.  lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practice/Medical-Malpractice
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