Below is a sample medical malpractice contingency fee agreement. It used to be four pages long. But it does not need to be if you are truly trying to be fair with your client. So we have been cutting our retainer agreement back over last 18 years to this.
I, Jane Doe, as wife and guardian of John Doe, retain the services of the law firm of Miller & Zois, L.L.C. as my sole attorneys to represent me for a medical malpractice claim which arose out of an incident which occurred on or about January 22, 2021 involving University of Maryland Medical Center and others.
Miller & Zois agrees to fight diligently to get me the best possible recovery in my case. I agree to pay to the law firm of Miller & Zois the sum of 40% of any settlement, or other monetary award or compensation resulting from this representation in addition to any and all costs associated with this representation. If I do not receive a monetary award from an out-of-court settlement or at an arbitration or trial, I will not be responsible for any fees or costs Miller & Zois may have incurred to pursue my case. These costs will be borne by Miller & Zois.
If I do get a recovery, I understand that the attorneys’ fee will be calculated and deducted prior to the deduction for any and all expenses associated with this legal representation. I instruct any defendant and insurance company to place, in addition to my name, the name of Miller & Zois on any settlement check or draft and agree not to enter into any settlement agreement with any defendant or insurance company without the full knowledge and consent of Miller & Zois.
I authorize Miller & Zois to take any and all action necessary to represent me which includes bringing a lawsuit in a court of proper jurisdiction. I also understand that any and all medical bills and any other bills that are not paid out of the settlement proceeds are my sole responsibility and not the responsibility of Miller & Zois.
I HAVE READ THIS ENTIRE AGREEMENT AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL PRIOR TO SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT AND ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF A COPY OF THIS AGREEMENT AND ACKNOWLEDGE THIS AGREEMENT REPRESENTS THE ENTIRE AGREEMENT BETWEEN MYSELF AND MILLER & ZOIS. BOTH PARTIES AGREE THAT THERE CAN BE NO ORAL MODIFICATIONS TO THIS AGREEMENT.
The key to this document is to make crystal clear to the client that the law firm bears the risk if there is no recovery. We spend sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on these cases. The client needs to fully understand – assuming your firm agrees to eat the expenses if you do not prevail – that they are not at risk for losing even more than they have already lost.
You can find agreements like that that are 3 pages long. I don’t think clients want to sign a document that is that long. This agreement gives both the client and the lawyer the protection they need.
What Percentage of a Settlement or Verdict Do Medical Malpractice Lawyers Take?
The percentage of a settlement or verdict that medical malpractice lawyers take depends on the jurisdiction, the case, and the lawyers themselves. In most Maryland malpractice cases, the contingency fee is 40%.
Can that 40% be a lot of money? Absolutely. Are the lawyers worth that fee? Of course, it depends on the lawyer and the case. The biggest justification for the fee is that the malpractice attorney is (or should be) taking on all the risk in the case because it is on a contingency fee. So if it costs $200,000 to bring the case to trial and you lose, that is the lawyer’s problem, not yours. Often the victim, who has been through so much, believes there is not much risk because she believes she has a case that can’t be lost. The reality is 99% of malpractice cases have a meaningful risk of losing at trial.
Why are the Expenses in a Malpractice Case so High?
There are many expenses in a medical malpractice case. The biggest expense is typically expert witnesses. The best doctors to testify in malpractice cases are often the best doctors who charge stunning amounts of money to get involved in litigation.
Is There Any Risk That I Will Have to Pay My Lawyer If We Have A Contingency Fee Agreement?
The short answer is no. A contingency fee agreement in a medical malpractice case should mean there is no risk to the victim. The sample contingency fee agreement above that our attorneys is a true contingency. This is how the best medical malpractice lawyers operate in Maryland. That said, make sure you read the entire agreement and make sure that you are talking to the lawyer about any terms in the agreement that confuse you. (If the agreement is five pages long, that is probably not a good thing.)
Other Sample Documents
General personal injury contingency fee agreement (non-malpractice)
More tools and weapons for malpractice lawyers
Our lawyers fight for medical malpractice victims. If you are a victim or you are a lawyer who has a case they may wish to refer to us with a fee split consistent with Maryland Rule 1.5, call 800-553-8082 or reach out to us online.