If you're asking that question, you've probably been through two difficult and expensive experiences: significant medical treatment, and medical treatment that did not go well or as expected. Those two events mean that you've already got bills piling up. Can you now afford to add attorney fees to those?
Fortunately, there is good news if you need to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Oregon or elsewhere. Most medical malpractice attorneys charge what's called a contingency fee. This means that rather than billing you by the hour, as attorneys do in some types of cases, they will work on your case for a share of any settlement or award you receive. This share typically ranges from 30-40%, plus reimbursement of costs like filing fees, copying and postage, and the costs of any expert witnesses.
That may sound like a lot—after all, you were the one who was injured, not the attorney! However, if you have a skilled medical malpractice lawyer, you will probably end up feeling that what you paid was well worth it.
The advantage of a contingency fee is obvious: at a time when you're already financially stressed, you don't need to come up with an additional outlay of cash to hire an attorney. This is especially important since medical malpractice lawsuits in Oregon need to be filed within a certain specified period from when the malpractice occurred. If you had to wait until you saved up the money for an attorney's retainer, you might find yourself barred from pursuing a lawsuit by the statute of limitations.
Another advantage, of course, is that if your case ends up being unsuccessful, you will not owe your lawyer a fee. You'd probably be much more reluctant to file a medical malpractice case otherwise. Even with a reasonably promising case, there are no guarantees of success. The prospect of losing your case, receiving no recovery, AND having to pay thousands of dollars in attorney fees would quickly make the prospect of filing a case unattractive.
A related advantage is that a contingency fee gives your attorney a built-in incentive to work hard to make your case successful. If you win, he wins, too. Of course, for ethical attorneys, this added financial incentive is only icing on the cake; their biggest motivation is to get justice for their clients and hold negligent doctors accountable for their actions.
What's the downside of hiring a medical malpractice lawyer on a contingency fee? Well, as mentioned, you need to share any recovery you receive with your attorney. If your case settles quickly, you may feel that your lawyer earned an awful lot of money for not very much work. However, even this has its silver lining. A quick settlement may mean that you had a strong case, but didn't have to suffer through the stresses of a trial or protracted negotiations to have that acknowledged. If you hire a well-respected medical malpractice attorney with a record of success and a reputation for taking on solid cases, your attorney's reputation may be a contributing factor to the speed and amount of the settlement. Defendants don't want to spend a lot of time and money defending a case they're likely to lose.
How can attorneys afford to take cases on contingency, especially since they are advancing the expenses of filing and preparing the case? The best medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience and concentrate their practice primarily on personal injury and medical malpractice. That gives them the background to be able to assess whether a case is solid, or on shaky ground. This is good for you: if an experienced attorney doesn't think your case is worthwhile, he won't put you through the stress of litigation. If he does accept your case, you can be confident that he believes it has a good chance of success. Simply put, the best attorneys are able to afford to take cases on contingency because they know how to minimize risks for themselves, and, more importantly, their clients.
Therefore, it's in your best interests to work with an experienced Portland, Oregon medical malpractice attorney. We invite you to contact Huegli Fraser PC for a free, confidential initial consultation. We look forward to answering your questions about fees and anything else to do with your medical malpractice matter.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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