In most cases the attorney will advance all the expenses or “costs” of the case, and then be reimbursed for these costs out of the recovery. Because of the complexities and proof requirements in malpractice cases, these out-of-pocket expenses spent by the attorney on things like medical records, court reporters, expert witnesses, travel, and trial exhibits, can easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars. In the more complicated cases these expenses can easily exceed $100,000.00. Sometimes the expenses exceed this amount by several times.
Reimbursement for expenses is usually at the end of the case and is in addition to the attorney’s fee percentage, which pays the attorney for the time and effort he spends on your case. In some states if there is no recovery the client must ultimately reimburse the lawyer for the expenses, even though no attorney’s fee is owed and the client recovers nothing in the case. In other states, if the case is lost the client owes nothing for the expenses and the lawyer simply absorbs the loss. Make sure you understand the arrangement on the front end of your case.
The Florida Rules of Professional Conduct will permit a lawyer to be responsible for the costs and expenses of the case and not charge the client for those expenses at the end of the case if there is no recovery. Most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will handle it this way, however, it is a matter of what is in your contract and there are still some attorneys in Florida who require their clients to advance costs all up front, or as the case proceeds, or at the end of the case, even if they lose the case. This is always negotiable and in Florida our advice is that if the attorney you are dealing with won’t agree to advance the expenses, and write them off if the case is lost, we recommend that you consider finding an attorney who will.
Our firm advances case expenses and you don’t have to pay us back unless we obtain a recovery. Likewise, you pay nothing for an attorney fee unless we achieve a recovery in your case.