How Much Does it Cost to Prosecute a Medical Malpractice Case?

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How Much Does it Cost to Prosecute a Medical Malpractice Case?

cost medical malpractice

How much does it cost to prosecute a medical malpractice case in the state of Delaware? Attorney Ben Schwartz explains why medical malpractice cases are a little different.

TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.

Today, we’re going to answer the question: How much does it cost to prosecute a medical malpractice lawsuit case in Delaware?
In a medical malpractice case or any personal injury case, you do not need to pay anything to meet with an attorney, discuss your rights and find out if you have a case. If an attorney takes your case, you will most likely be offered a contingency fee agreement. This means that the attorney will be paid a percentage of your settlement or recovery. The law firm or the attorney representing you will advance the costs of prosecuting the case.

In medical malpractice cases, things are a little bit different than slip-and-fall accident cases, dog bite cases or car accident personal injury cases. Your attorney will follow specific requirements when putting your case together.

What are the costs that are typically incurred in a medical malpractice case? In Delaware, medical malpractice cases really differ from personal injury cases.

  • If you file a lawsuit (any lawsuit), you need to pay the court a filing fee. In a Delaware medical malpractice case, you typically file in the Superior Court of Delaware. The filing fee is just under $200.
  • You will serve the defendants. Whoever you’re suing has a right to receive a copy of the lawsuit papers served upon them by the sheriff (also called a private process server). You are either paying the sheriff or the process server to serve the lawsuit papers.
  • Through the course of the litigation, you will also have depositions. A deposition is a question-and-answer session that is recorded by a stenographer. It’s recorded by a court reporter.
  • After you take the deposition, you order and pay for a copy of the transcript from the court reporter, so that you have a copy of what everything that was said during the deposition. Those transcripts can cost several hundred dollars.
  • You need to have a physician’s testimony to pursue your case in Delaware. In other words, you must have a report from the doctor saying the injuries were caused by the accident. The reports can cost several thousand dollars.
  • It’s not enough just to prove that there were injuries caused by the adverse event.  A physician (at least in Delaware) needs to testify that the surgeon of the doctor who you are suing screwed-up or did something wrong. You must have the testimony that the doctor deviated from the standard of care or did something that doctors normally would not do under those circumstances if they were acting in a reasonable manner. In order to prosecute a medical malpractice case in Delaware, your attorney, has to find a doctor who is qualified to give that opinion. Your attorney will obtain what’s called an affidavit of merit and file that along with the lawsuit in the Superior Court.  You will need to have a physician, a specialty physician, surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, a vascular surgeon, etc. review your medical records and offer an opinion. He or she will need to put it into the form of an affidavit of merit. Typically, this costs several thousand dollars.
  • Once the lawsuit is filed, that physician may be needed to consult in the case to produce additional materials. If the case goes to trial, that doctor may need to come to trial to testify in person or by videotaped deposition. These additional materials can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

In the state of Delaware, an attorney prosecuting a medical malpractice case can spend tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get the case from the evaluation stage through trial and an appeal (if there’s an appeal).

If you have been injured as a result of a surgical error or a doctor’s failure to diagnose your condition or if you’ve been injured by a healthcare provider, it’s important to know the system. We will be spending a lot of money to prosecute your case. We won’t take cases unless we intend to fight for our clients. We won’t take cases unless we are prepared to litigate the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

When you go to an attorney with a potential medical malpractice case, it’s important to know that the attorney will wonder, “If I spend a hundred thousand dollars or a hundred and fifty thousand dollars prosecuting this surgical error case or prosecuting this failure to diagnose case, will I not only get my money back out of the verdict but will I going to be able to earn a fee under my contingent fee agreement? Will I really help my client by creating a positive net benefit for them?

In other words, after paying all the costs of prosecution in the attorney’s fee, is the client going to end up with substantial remuneration? If not, then my suggestion is that, as an attorney, you have no business taking that case. You should always focus on the net recovery for the client. That’s what matters.

If you’re an attorney watching this video, I hope you keep that in mind. If you’re a consumer – someone who is trying to learn more about your legal rights and you’ve had an adverse event and you are considering bringing a case against a physician, hospital or other medical treatment providers – I hope you’ll be more informed about the process and what’s required to prosecute a medical malpractice case in Delaware.

Thanks for watching!

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