If you’re searching for a medical malpractice lawyer in Washington, you’ll probably come across a contingency fee lawyer practicing in Seattle. This is a lawyer who agrees to accept your case without upfront payment.
Instead of charging a retainer and billing you monthly for their hourly fees, they will work on your case and only receive a portion of your settlement or award if they secure one for you. If there’s no financial settlement or jury award in your case, the lawyer won’t receive a fee for their services.
Contingency fees don’t have to be complicated, and they have the much-needed benefit of giving you access to an experienced lawyer when you can’t afford the hourly fees.
When you consider entering into a contingency fee agreement for a medical malpractice claim, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Matt Menzer, founder of Menzer Law, can explain everything.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is your attorney’s payment for their time and effort in the case if they recover compensation for you. It’s typically calculated as a percentage of the money you recover. Your lawyer’s fee depends on them winning your case. If there’s no recovery by a settlement or arbitration or jury award, the lawyer isn’t entitled to any fees in the case.
This fee arrangement isn’t available in every legal claim. It’s explicitly not allowed in some situations, such as criminal cases or divorce.
Contingency fee lawyers in Seattle often handle:
- Medical malpractice claims
- Personal injury claims
- Auto, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accident claims
- Defective product claims
- Some work accident claims
- Some insurance claims
Contingency Fees Can Vary
A contingency fee typically ranges from 33% to 45% of the compensation recovered. The specific percentage amount generally depends on the attorney, the area of law and your potential recovery. One-third of the settlement or court award is the most common amount for auto accidents and other simpler personal injury cases.
But more complicated injury cases, which require more time and expertise and present higher costs and financial risks to the lawyers, call for a higher percentage. In Washington, lawyers who focus on medical malpractice law typically charge a 40% or higher contingency fee.
Fees can’t be exorbitant. Under Washington’s Rules of Professional Conduct, medical malpractice lawyers can’t collect an unreasonable fee.
Contingency Fees Can Escalate
Some Seattle medical malpractice lawyers ask for an escalating contingency fee agreement. Certain factors, such as getting close to a trial date, might increase the percentage you owe, for example, from 40% to 45% or even higher.
At Menzer Law, we don’t believe this is the best way to structure a contingency fee in a medical malpractice case. We use a straight 40% fee that doesn’t increase over the course of the case. We believe this arrangement is better for the client. You don’t have to worry that the timing of a settlement or award will result in you receiving a smaller share of the recovery.
Who Is Responsible For Costs?
Seattle contingency fee lawyers may agree to pay numerous litigation costs out-of-pocket. In a medical malpractice case, that might include medical experts’ fees, court filing fees, deposition and transcript fees, medical records copying and more. These costs add up quickly, easily reaching tens of thousands of dollars. When a malpractice case goes to trial, the costs can easily exceed $100,000.
Under most contingency fee agreements, the lawyer will be reimbursed those costs at the end of the case from the award or settlement. These costs are typically paid back to the lawyer on top of or in addition to the agreed-upon fee.
What Happens If You Fire Your Lawyer?
It’s not common, but sometimes the relationship between a lawyer and a client doesn’t work. That’s why it’s essential to look for the best attorney for your case and get to know them before signing an agreement. Hire someone you can trust and work well with.
A contingency fee agreement will usually have a provision about what happens if the relationship between you and your attorney ends before resolving the case. You might owe them money or some percentage of the fee, depending on the circumstances.
You Are Entitled To A Contingency Fee Agreement In Writing
Based on the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct, you’re entitled to a contingency fee agreement that is written in a way that you can understand. Never hire a lawyer without getting a copy of the fee agreement. Take time to review and understand it before you sign.
Feel free to ask the attorney questions about the fee and other costs. If they don’t give you straightforward answers, this is a sign that they aren’t the right lawyer for you.
Call Menzer Law Today
Are you ready to talk about suing your doctor or hospital? At Menzer Law, we can explain the law and your options. Give us a call at 206.903.1818 or use our online contact form to set up a free consultation.