Fundamentals of Medical Malpractice Litigation
THE FEE AGREEMENT
As noted, a medical malpractice lawyer works under a contingency fee agreement. Medical malpractice cases may warrant a higher contingency fee than garden-variety motor vehicle cases or slip-and-fall lawsuits. This is because the amount of work and the lawyer’s own financial investment are usually significantly more.
Some states have laws that limit the lawyer’s contingency fee. Some counties have laws that limit the lawyer’s fee in cases involving children or in cases where the patient has died.
No lawyer can properly evaluate or pursue a medical malpractice case without first obtaining the relevant medical records and interviewing available witnesses. If family members or friends accompanied you to doctor visits or were present during any of your interactions with the doctors, they should be interviewed. Your medical recordsare vital to your ability to prove a case. A lawyer who delays obtaining your records is, more often than not, not giving your case the attention it deserves. Check periodically to see that your lawyer has obtained records from your healthcare providers. However, know that it can take months to actually receive records.
It is important that your lawyer be aware of your most recent medical care. You must keep your lawyer informed of all the doctors you have seen. You only hurt your case by not keeping your lawyer updated on matters that are relevant to your case. If your medical care continues after the lawsuit is filed, it is the responsibility of both you and your lawyer to communicate regularly to make certain the attorney is up to date with your medical care.
Lawyers typically rely on their staff, namely their secretary or paralegal, to keep the file updated with current medical records. Typically, the secretary or paralegal is more available during the workday to receive telephone calls than the attorney is. It is a good idea to maintain an open line of communication with the legal staff as the case progresses.