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How Much Does a New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Cost

If you have been injured by the very people you expected to help, namely the doctors or other healthcare providers tending to you, you may be wondering what your legal options are. If the unknown costs associated with hiring a New York malpractice lawyer have you hesitating to make the call, this article will help explain how much a lawyer could cost.

There are actually many variables that can affect the size of your legal bill, including:

  • The billing method the lawyer prefers
  • The specific amount the lawyer charges
  • Whether your case settles or goes to trial
  • Whether you are successful in receiving a financial award
  • The legal expenses-such as photocopying, court fees, and payments to expert witnesses-associated with working your case

More than how much the attorney charges, the billing method itself is the biggest variable in determining how much you will pay. Most New York medical malpractice lawyers will want a contingency fee or an hourly fee.

With a contingency fee, you pay a percentage of your final settlement or award to the attorney, plus expenses. If you are unsuccessful, you typically owe nothing because most medical malpractice lawyers in New York will waive the legal expenses if you collect nothing.

An hourly fee, also called an hourly rate is just what it sounds like; that is, you pay your lawyer by the hour for his or her work on your case. Whether you win or lose, you will also owe the legal expenses connected with your case.

Hiring a Lawyer on Contingency

Most New York medical malpractice lawyers prefer to take their clients on a contingency basis. This is because of the many benefits such a billing method offers the client, such as:

  • No money is required up front
  • No money is owed if the client receives nothing from the healthcare provider
  • The attorney is financially motivated to work for the largest monetary award possible

A disadvantage of paying a contingency fee is that if the case is settled quickly, you may feel the attorney didn't fully earn the fee he or she received for the amount of work put into the case

Just because an attorney has named a percentage for the contingency fee does not mean there isn't room for negotiation. You can ask for several alterations to the billing policy, but all negotiations must be conducted and concluded before you hire a lawyer, not after.

For example, you could ask the attorney to take a smaller percentage. You could ask that the percentage vary, paying one amount should the case settle and another amount, typically higher, if you go to trial. Finally, you could ask that the lawyer's percentage be calculated on your net award, that is, what you bring in after you pay the legal expenses.

Hiring a Lawyer on an Hourly Rate

Many lawyers-although fewer medical malpractice lawyers in New York-charge by the hour. If you've gotten a divorce or had a will written, you probably paid your lawyer by the hour for these services. Many medical malpractice lawyers choose to charge a contingency fee because they know their clients need their money to tend to their injuries.

If you do end up hiring a New York medical malpractice attorney by the hour, you will probably need to pay a retainer, which is an up-front fee not unlike a down payment. You'll also likely receive monthly billing statements throughout the course of your litigation and be expected to pay promptly.

If you are unable to hire a New York medical malpractice lawyer on contingency, the lawyers you interviewed may be trying to tell you that your case is weak or not worth much money. Before you hire an attorney by the hour, make sure you receive an honest assessment of your case's strengths and weaknesses. Treat the lawsuit like an investment, one you have to research to make sure it pays off.

The Cost of Hiring a New York Malpractice Lawyer

Whether you are from Buffalo or the Bronx, make sure you ask for a detailed cost estimate before you decide which New York medical malpractice lawyer to hire. You'll want to know which type of billing arrangement the lawyer uses, what the hourly billing rate or contingency fee is, and how settling or going to trial affects your bottom line. You should ask each attorney you are considering hiring:

  • How much do you think my case is worth if my case settles? If it goes to court?
  • About how much will I pay in legal fees if it settles? If it goes to court?
  • About how much will I pay in legal expenses if my case settles? If it goes to court?
  • After deducting legal fees and expenses, how much will I take home if my case settles? If it goes to court?

Once you've gotten the answers to these questions, you'll have a much better handle on how much it costs to hire a New York medical malpractice lawyer.