It is understandable to wonder about the cost of a medical malpractice lawyer in South Carolina after sustaining an injury. However, if you are a malpractice victim, a civil lawsuit could be your best chance to recover the compensation you need to pay for your care. So, while the thought of adding the expense of an attorney might seem daunting, the good news is you could pursue your case without paying upfront legal fees.
The eventual cost of hiring an attorney will largely depend on the value of your case. However, most medical malpractice lawyers will agree to handle your case on contingency.
Most Medical Malpractice Attorneys Operate on a Contingency Basis
Medical malpractice lawyers in South Carolina will take on most cases on a contingency basis. This arrangement is good news for clients, as it means your attorney will get to work right away instead of waiting for you to pay their fee upfront.
Instead, you only owe a fee to your attorney if they win your case via a settlement with the at-fault medical professional or a jury verdict. Then, your attorney will receive a percentage of your award. However, if your attorney is unsuccessful in your case, you will owe them nothing.
Each law firm sets its contingency rate, so it is critical to understand what your prospective attorney charges before you hire them. However, working on a contingency basis with a medical malpractice lawyer allows you to seek justice for your injuries regardless of your current financial position.
Timing of Paying Attorney’s Fees in a Contingency Agreement
You pay your fee once your attorney has settled your case or secured a trial verdict. This agreement means you only owe an attorney if you secure compensation and will only pay once you have received your payment from the at-fault party.
In addition, some attorneys operate on a sliding fee scale based on the complexity of the case. For example, an attorney might agree to take the case at a lower percentage if it appears likely to settle, with the understanding that the rate increases if the case goes to trial.
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What About Other Expenses?
The legal fee for your attorney is only one of the expenses related to a medical malpractice case. Other expenses that are not generally covered by the contingency agreement could crop up. For instance, as the plaintiff, you could still be on the hook for filing fees, costs related to hiring expert witnesses, and financial charges for obtaining your medical records.
Some attorneys will cover those fees, but that is only sometimes the case. Thus, it is helpful to ask your lawyer about these additional costs during your initial consultation.
How Can I Learn What an Attorney Will Cost?
Thankfully, you will have the opportunity to learn about an attorney’s fee structure before you decide to hire them to handle your medical malpractice case. While some lawyers advertise the percentage they will receive, others do not. So, the best way to learn what an attorney charges is during a free initial consultation.
Most medical malpractice lawyers offer a free consultation. This meeting provides an opportunity to sit down and learn more about the strengths of your case and the firm’s approach to medical malpractice cases. In addition, asking about an attorney’s fee structure is among the most important questions you could ask.
For example, you can ask what percentage of your award the attorney receives as their fee and whether these rates are negotiable. Many lawyers have a set percentage they recover and never waver from that amount. However, no matter their fee structure, seeking answers upfront before hiring an attorney is vital. A misunderstanding about billing procedures can result in conflict after your case is concluded.
Other Types of Fee Structures for Medical Malpractice Cases
While medical malpractice lawyers in South Carolina typically operate on a contingency fee agreement, some don’t. Every law firm sets its fee structure, and there are different ways to pay for an attorney beyond a contingency arrangement. While these options are less common with medical malpractice cases, other law specialties (e.g., criminal or probate law) often use these alternate fee structures.
Some attorneys bill by the hour. In these cases, the lawyer sets their hourly rate and tracks their work on a case down the minute. Often, these attorneys also require the client to pay part of that fee upfront. This payment is known as a retainer. Hourly billing is more common in business litigation.
Flat fee structures are especially uncommon in medical malpractice cases. This approach allows an attorney to take a case for a fixed fee. This flat fee does not change based on the case’s outcome or how long it takes to finish. The flat fee approach is more common in criminal defense cases.
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Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney About Their Rates
Talking to an attorney about their billing structure is an essential first step in the hiring decision. Thus, it is a conversation that should happen long before you choose. The good news for medical malpractice victims is many attorneys will agree to work on contingency. While that means the amount you have to pay in legal fees will vary, your fees will only be high if you receive substantial compensation.
The attorneys of Schiller & Hamilton are ready to help you pursue compensation for your medical malpractice injuries. Our team works on contingency, so you won’t owe any fees unless we recover compensation. So, to learn more about our fee structure and how we’ll fight for the money you deserve, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.