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What Does It Cost to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Miami?

How much does it cost to hire a Miami medical malpractice lawyer? For some reason, people associate lawyers with dollar signs. We get it, really we do. Most people only see lawyers on TV or in movies. They’re always dressed in tailored suits with nice leather shoes. 

Most people are surprised, however, when they learn that the majority of lawyers – the good ones anyway – only get paid when their clients get results.

It would be a strange thing if you had to pay a lot of money and didn’t get the outcome you deserved. That would be like paying for a Porsche and getting a 20-year-old Ford. Nothing against Ford, of course, but they’re just not the same thing. 

The stakes are high in most legal battles, but especially so when you’re dealing with medical malpractice. It’s a serious issue. These are complex cases. And expensive and time-consuming.

People can die when doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes. Lives are on the line…literally. In addition to fatal mistakes, medical malpractice can leave people permanently disabled, scarred, or experience other lingering symptoms.  

You need a Miami medical malpractice lawyer who knows what it takes and charges you only if you get the case outcome you deserve. 

Here are some things you should know about how to hire the right attorney and what it will cost you. 

Insight #1 – Make Sure You Find a Lawyer with the Right Billing Method

Lawyers charge fees in several different ways. I know, it can be a bit complicated for people who are dealing with medical issues or those who haven’t hired a lawyer before. Stay with me on this. 

Basically, lawyers will either charge you based on an hourly rate or a contingency. Here’s the breakdown of the difference. 

Hourly Rate – This is just like if the attorney were your employee. You pay them for the hours of work they do on your case.

Lawyers often have many clients, so every time they talk to you on the phone, read your emails, or prepare legal documents for your case, they’re on your clock. 

The benefit of hourly fees is that you know exactly how much you’re paying and any money you get in a settlement or court, minus what you have to pay your lawyer and the expenses of the case, is yours to keep. 

The downside to hourly billing is that, if your case fails, you still have to pay. And hourly rates for top flight lawyers are very high.  Ask around and find out what the top lawyers charge. In major markets like Miami, highly skilled and experienced lawyers charge at least $500 an hour, many getting $750 to $1000 an hour.  That adds up fast.

Contingency Agreements – Contingency agreements exist as more than just a way for people with limited financial resources to get an attorney. That’s a good reason to offer contingency, but lawyers have other purposes as well. 

With contingency billing, you pay no money upfront, and you can have confidence knowing if you don’t get any financial award, your Miami medical malpractice lawyer doesn’t get paid. 

There’s very little downside, the only possible exception is that some people wonder whether they would have paid less if they had agreed to hourly billing before they won their case. 

The idea behind contingency fees is that it allows people of no means to hire the very best lawyer there is.  They are only paid if they recover for you, and they not only have a great incentive but if they are skilled and experienced they may be lawyers that are superior to those hired by the defense or insurance company.

Pro Tip – Lawyers who agree to contingency agreements generally feel good about their chances in court or settling. Otherwise, they wouldn’t invest the time in taking you on as a client. Find out the top reasons medical malpractice cases fail. 

Insight #2 – The Best Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyer will be Transparent About Costs

No matter what, your Miami medical malpractice lawyer should be able to break down the costs of your case.

No, they’re not going to give you an exact figure because every case is different. Some medical doctors, device makers, and other medical entities involved in a malpractice suit will be more inclined to settle given the circumstance of your case. The time it takes to settle or try your case, the complexity of the case, number and type of health care providers involved, the judge, jurisdiction and other factors will all affect how long it will take to complete your case. These factors also determine what the costs will be.

Some defendants will hold out and delay the case, and the case could stretch on for months or even years. It all depends. 

However, the best malpractice firms and legal representatives will have a proven track record and will know, within reason, what ballpark you’re in when it comes to legal fees. 

Here are some questions you should ask when you’re on the phone with them:

Insider Tip: Go with a lawyer who will give you a free phone, video or in-person initial consultation. Some lawyers will charge you just to hear about your case. Get someone who you can talk to with no obligation to find out whether you have a malpractice case and what the next steps should be.

  • How do you bill clients?
  • What experience do you have with these types of medical malpractice cases?
  • What were the outcomes?
  • Do you have board certified trial lawyers in your firm?
  • Can I talk to some of your prior or existing clients to ask them about the process?
  • How long do you think the case will last?
  • What will my total costs be?
  • What is my case worth? (This is one that no skilled lawyer can answer with any precision until they are familiar with the facts and medical records.)

These, and any other questions you can think of, are completely legitimate. Find a lawyer who will walk you through them and does so patiently. 

Insight #3 – Remember that You’re Paying for Expertise

Everyone wants to spend money. When we’re shopping for something unfamiliar, we often go for the most affordable. It’s hard for us to gauge value. 

When you’re in a situation in which you need legal help, how can you gauge value when we’re talking about the cost of a Miami medical malpractice lawyer?

Different lawyers are going to charge different fees, whether it’s charged by the hour or on contingency.

What you have to realize is that you’re paying for expertise. You’re not buying the same service at different prices. Better lawyers can charge more money because they get better results and they are in higher demand. It’s that simple. 

You’re paying for their years on the job and the expertise of the legal team they bring to the table. Don’t pay attention only to price. Focus more on whether they can win your case.  And winning comes in many shapes and sizes: a lawyer can “win” $50,000 for you or $5 million.  Both are “wins” but which one can really compensate you for your losses?

The best way for you to gauge value is to examine a lawyer’s track record. If you’ve got a malpractice case, ask them for the case outcomes they’ve won for other clients.  There are over 100,000 attorney in Florida, but only a few highly skilled, top-tier medical malpractice trial lawyers.  Many lawyers take cases and refer them out to the top lawyers.  Find out what their track record is with the type of case you have.

Is the lawyer well recognized in the field?  Have they taught other lawyers? Have they lectured or written in the field?

Don’t shortchange your long-term outcome for short-term savings. 

Insight #4 – There Will Be Other Costs Associated with Your Case

There is often a steep learning curve for people the first time that they hire an attorney. 

We understand. It’s not something you deal with all of the time. And, it can be an intimidating process, especially if you’ve dealt with medical lawyers representing the people who made costly mistakes!

Many people are surprised, though, when they hire a lawyer and think they are clear on the cost, only to have other fees associated with their case pop up along the way. 

Most of the time, on top of contingency fees or hourly billing, lawyers will charge for things like:

  • Court fees
  • Mileage accrued during your case
  • Postage
  • Depositions and videotaping
  • Out of pocket expenses

Also, medical malpractice cases that go to court often involve what’s called expert testimony. This is when your legal team will call in people familiar with your condition (like a disability you suffered as a result of malpractice) or a doctor or some other expert to explain what should have happened with your treatment. 

These people are paid for their time. They will help your case, and the right expert testimony can make a massive difference in your outcome. In Florida, expert testimony and reviews are required before the malpractice case can even be begun.  This adds to the expenses of malpractice cases.

Just make sure you iron out what other fees or costs you’ll be responsible for when you’re sorting out costs with potential attorneys. 

Insight #5 – Do you want the cheapest, or the best?

Any lawyer can offer a discount. The question is, what is the real value?

Most top medical malpractice lawyers in Miami charge a fairly standard range of fees, which are set to some degree by the Florida Supreme Court.  Don’t be afraid to ask the lawyer about what they charge.

Understand that medical malpractice cases are almost always complex, expensive, time-consuming and demand a very high level of legal and medical knowledge.  Most personal injury lawyers do not handle or succeed in handling medical malpractice cases. They are considered among the most difficult and that’s why a very limited number of top trial lawyers specialize in them.

So the question is whether you want to get a discount lawyer or a top notch lawyer.

Ask around. Find out who is known for succeeding in medical malpractice cases.  There is huge difference in lawyers who routinely handle, litigate, settle and try medical malpractice cases and those personal injury lawyers who might take one every so often.  Would select a heart surgeon who occasionally does open heart surgery? No, you want someone who does it often, knows the field, stays on top of the literature and latest techniques, and has a long track record of success.

At that point, any discount for the not-so-great malpractice lawyer just will not seem worth it.

The Final Word on Cost

In every line of work, whether you’re going to the mechanic or going to see a doctor, professionals at the top of their field command higher prices. 

They do this because they are in demand. They are the most skilled.  People are willing to pay more because they get better results.

When you’re dealing with a medical malpractice case, that experience and expertise count. It can mean the difference between never having to work again because of a disability and struggling financially for the rest of your life for something that wasn’t your fault. 

Weight the costs and benefits of legal fees and any arrangement you are considering carefully because the right lawyer will make a huge difference in your case. 

 

Article by:

John Leighton

A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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