At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston birth injury lawyers offer our services on a contingency fee basis.
What this means is our clients do not pay us unless we are successful in recovering a monetary amount. If we win, the fee for legal services is calculated based on the total award, based on an advance agreement for us to accept a fixed percentage.
This is often the best and sometimes the only way for many victims of medical malpractice to afford to take on doctors, hospitals and other wealthy defendants in court. We have the resources necessary to cover all the upfront costs, which include filing fees, depositions, expert witness expenses and fees to obtain copies of important records.
A contingency fee agreement is the answer to the often-asked question: “What If I Can’t Afford an Attorney?” By offering legal services on a contingent basis, we are able to assist families no matter what their current financial situation. This allows us to fight for injury victims based on the merits of their case, rather than the size of their pocketbook.What are the Benefits of a Contingency Fee Agreement?
Many clients are relieved to know that initiating a claim or lawsuit against a negligent doctor, hospital or other health care provider will not mean delving deeper into their savings or taking the risk of going bankrupt.
Some of the benefits of a contingency fee arrangement are:
- No upfront costs
- No out-of-pocket expenses
- No attorney fees if your case is unsuccessful
- Minimal risk
Birth injuries are a form of medical malpractice. Such cases have a higher proof burden, are highly technical and have special notice requirements just to move past the initial stages. The time and skill level necessary to successfully pursue such a case could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars upfront, absent a contingency fee agreement.
By agreeing to a fixed percentage prior to initiating a claim, we can take the guesswork out of these costs.
In some situations, clients will need to pay court filing fees and other non-attorney charges if the case is unsuccessful. Your attorney should carefully explain this all to you before you enter an agreement.Settlement vs. Trial
Many civil lawsuits – birth injury claims included – are settled out-of-court, prior to trial.
As the American Bar Association notes, the method of settling a case may affect the amount of a lawyer’s fee, but only if that is agreed upon beforehand. When personal injury lawsuits are settled with insurers prior to trial, it often requires less legal work.
It can vary, though, because our attorneys are always prepared for the possibility of a trial, especially in medical malpractice lawsuits. A case that settles two weeks prior to trial will not take significantly less time than taking the case one step further to a jury.
In some situations where cases settle easily or quickly before trial, your lawyer may agree to a lower percentage. However, keep in mind that these cases, due to their complexity, often take a significant amount of research and time in advance of the trial. That could affect the overall percentage.Massachusetts Law on Attorney Fees
MGL c. 231 § 60I makes clear that when an attorney seeks fees for services rendered on behalf of a claimant in a medical negligence case, they must be “fair and reasonable.”
Contingency fee agreements in particular are subject to the rules and guidelines of the supreme judicial court. Contingency fee agreements may not result in payment to the plaintiff, after deducting attorney fees and other costs, that is less than plaintiff’s unpaid past and future medical expenses. The exception would be:
- If the attorney fee is 20 percent or less of plaintiff’s recovery;
- If the attorney fee is reduced to 20 percent or less of plaintiff’s recovery;
- If the attorney fee is reduced to a level that allows plaintiff to be able to pay past and future medical expenses within that recovery.
Although attorneys do set their own contingency fees, based on factors such as the nearness of the statute of limitations and the complexity of the case, there are rules as to how much they can charge. The limits are as follows:
- 40 percent for the first $150,000 recovered;
- 33 and 1/3 percent of the next $150,000 recovered;
- 30 percent of the next $200,000 recovered;
- 25 percent of any amount by which recovery extends beyond $500,000.
If you have questions regarding the cost and expenses of your case, contact us today for a free consultation.