Unlike virtually all other cases, medical malpractice cases are some of the most expensive and risky cases a lawyer can handle. Not only does the lawyer have to learn and understand the medicine as well as a doctor, but he must invest a tremendous amount of skill, time, money and effort to be successful with these cases.
Most lawyers who handle medical malpractice cases on behalf of patients do so on a contingency fee basis. That means that the lawyer only charges a fee if a recovery is made. If no recovery is made, then the client owes the lawyer nothing.
Since most experienced medical malpractice attorneys typicallly invest between $30,000 and $70,000 of their own money per medical malpractice case, the contingency fee charged is usually at least 40% of the total recovery. The amount of fee charged must reflect the amount of money being risked and the amount of skill and effort to achieve a successful result.
Although the medical expert witnesses are the single most expensive part of the case, other costs can also be significant. For instance, the medical records alone can cost a thousand dollars to copy. Multiply that cost times the number of copies which will be needed at trial for exhibits and copies for the judge or juryand the copy costs alone can be several thousand dollars.
Travel costs are always an added source of expense. Since most experts are out of town, travel arrangements must be made for the taking of their deposition. At trial, part of the medical records will need to be enlarged and mounted for easy viewing by the judge or jury. Also, medical graphic charts demonstrating the anatomy or the area of the body involved are very expensive to purchase. One medical illustration can cost $1,000.
In a complicated case, an animation film may need to be produced so the jury can visualize the procedure that was ongoing at the time of the medical error. A single animation can cost $10,000. Expensive video and projection equipment will be necessary at trial to show the exhibits and animations prepared for the jury. High tech computer software can also organize and illustrate medical records with a click of a mouse.
If lost wages are a component of damages, expert economists or vocational rehabilation expert testimony may be necessary. If the patient is in need substantial medical care for the rest of his life, an expert life care planner will need to prepare a detailed report itemizing the expenses which will be incurred to care for the patient. These reports typically cost about $10,000.
Medical malpractice cases are among the most expensive cases to try. Thus, an experienced medical malpractice attorney with sufficient resources to fund the case expenses is critical to a successful outcome.