In my last blog, I explained the maximum legal fee in a New York personal injury case. The fee is different, however, in medical malpractice cases, and that’s the topic of today’s blog post.
In medical malpractice cases, New York law provides for a “sliding fee” in which the lawyer’s percentage drops as the amount recovered increases. The sliding scale goes like this: 30% of first $250,000 of recovery, 25% of the next $250,000, 20% of the next $500,000, 15% of the next $250,000 and 10% of the recovery over $1. 25 million.
Notice that the fee in a medical malpractice case (sliding scale starting at 1/3 and dropping down to as low as 10%) is lower than the fee in a regular personal Injury case (straight-out 1/3 regardless of the amount of the recovery).
Why does New York law provide for a lower fee in medical malpractice cases than in other injury cases? After all, medical malpractice cases are more demanding, and usually require more work and skill than most regular personal injury cases. (As Central and Syracuse New York medical malpractice lawyers, the lawyers at Michaels & Smolak know this first hand). In a medical malpractice case, a New York medical malpractice attorney worth his salt will spend countless hours absorbed in medical text books to become fluent enough in the particular field of medicine at issue to not only clearly explain to the jury what went wrong, but also to effectively cross-examine the defendant doctor, who will try to convince the jury he did nothing wrong at all. And medical malpractice cases are less likely to settle than regular personal injury cases, and therefore a New York medical malpractice lawyer is more likely to end up spending weeks in trial. It’s more work. Lots more!
Then why is the attorney fee less in a New York medical malpractice case if it requires more work?” Answer: doctor Lobbying. Yes, your friendly doctor belongs to a group of doctors which pays lobbyists to bend the ears of lawmakers in Albany. Not only do they bend these lawmakers’ ears, they also fill their re-election campaign chests. No surprise, then, that these lawmakers are willing to vote for such a silly, complicated “sliding scale” fee schedule as the one described above, whose overall aim is simply to reduce attorney fees in medical malpractice cases.
When the doctors lobbied for this law, and won, they hoped that the reduced legal fee would make medical malpractice lawyers more reluctant to represent the victims of medical malpractice. They hoped fewer New York medical malpractice victims would find lawyers to take their cases to the courthouse doors. They did not pass this bill because they wanted you, the malpractice victim, to end up with more money at the end of your case. They wanted you to go away! But did you go away? No! Why not? Because many fine New York medical malpractice lawyers are still willing to represent you, even at a reduced fee.