What Is A Reasonable Fee For A Medical Malpractice Attorney To Charge in Arizona and What Kind of Costs and Expenses Will There Be
In Arizona most good medical malpractice attorneys will agree to prosecute malpractice claims on a contingency fee arrangement.
This means that the attorney will not charge an hourly rate for his services, but instead will be paid a percentage of the recovery in the event of a settlement or judgment. In many cases, costs are advanced on behalf of the client and are payable, interest-free, at the conclusion of the case. Costs include such expenses as medical consultant fees, court filing fees, service of process fees, expert witness fees, deposition costs, etc. In Arizona, the average percentage charged in a medical malpractice contingency fee agreement ranges between forty to forty-five per cent. Since you are not paying for the attorney’s fees unless and until you make a recovery, you should select the most qualified attorney you can find, the one who has the best chance of winning your case. The contingency fee percentage is ordinarily higher in a medical malpractice case than a more routine negligence case like an automobile accident claim. This usually is based on the fact the cases are much more complicated and need an attorney with specialized expertise and also the fact that the attorney is often advancing costs in the case on your behalf so he or she is taking a financial gamble that the case will be successful and there will be reimbursement of costs.
The basic statutory requirements governing medical malpractice actions are contained in A.R.S. 12-561 to 563.
Regardless of the initial fee agreement, a fee must be reasonable under all the circumstances. In the Matter of Swartz, 141 Ariz. 266, 273, 688 P.2d 1236, 1243 (1984) the Arizona appellate court stated if there is a dispute relating to a contingency fee, the factors to be considered include:
- The degree of uncertainty or contingency with respect to liability and the amount of damages which may be recovered or the funds available from which to collect any judgment.
- The difficulty of the case and the skill required to handle it
- The time expended pursuing it
- The results obtained
What Kind of Expenses Are Ordinarily Involved and Are These Expenses Usually the Obligation of the Client?
Prosecuting a medical malpractice case in Arizona as well as other states is very expensive. All medical records must be obtained, expert witnesses retained and usually multiple depositions taken. There are also costs for trial support personnel, exhibit preparations and the development of other evidence used to demonstrate the full impact of the malpractice on the victims. The total costs needed to fund the average medical malpractice case ordinarily range between $30,000.00 and $150,000.00. Some attorneys will require the client to advance at least a portion of these costs. By theory, they are the clients’ obligation to pay, win or lose, but many firms will assure the clients that they will advance the costs and will not pursue the clients for them in the event the attorney has advanced them and the case is not successful. This explains well the concept that many good medical malpractice attorneys are not willing to take on a case unless they are reasonably confident that they can prevail at trial. This is particularly true since, in some instances juries will decide to give physicians or other medical providers a pass, even if negligence is proven.