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Is it standard to pay med malpractice lawyer 40% PLUS fees? I thought the 40% was meant to cover both costs and payment?

Pittsburgh, PA |

My parents are seeking out a lawyer because my mother was permanently disabled during surgery and they want to recover medical expenses. They are consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer and they lawyer is charging them 40% of their payout plus any fees related to their case. I was under the impressioni that the 40% cover their expenses as well as their payment. Thanks in advance!

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Attorney answers 7


Generally, fees and expenses are paid separately. In cases such as Medical Malpractice/Personal Injury, the attorney has agreed to take your case on a "contingency" basis. This means that the fee is based on a percentage of your recovery. Because there is a risk of not achieving a favorable settlement/verdict, the attorney is not guaranteed to earn a fee.

On the other hand, the expenses of litigating the case are, in essence, money out of the lawyer's own pocket for the purpose of investigating your injuries, including the receipt and review of medical records, etc. Because this can be a substantial outlay of funds, the lawyer wants to be assured that he can recover these expenses in the event that he is not able to recover.

You should consult with a number of lawyers before making a decision and make the best possible decision for you and your mother.


It is standard in Allegheny County, and throughout Pennsylvania that the fee in medical malpractice cases is 40% PLUS costs. The reason is simple. The lawyer is advancing the costs and incurring all of the risk. Also, if the costs were deducted from the legal fee, there could be scenarios where the attorney recovered money for the client, but the costs exceeded the legal fee, and the lawyer lost money by winning the case, If you think your mother has a good case, try negotiating the legal fee percentage to 1/3 as an option.

Good Luck.
Noah Paul Fardo

Kenneth Howard Levinson

Kenneth Howard Levinson


I particularly like Noah's advice to negotiate the fee. If the potential case is strong, many times a lawyer will reduce a fee.


The percentage usually covers the fees - the costs are frequently additional. 40% is fairly standard in complex medical malpractice cases; however, some firms will probably offer 1/3. I have a fairly typical 1/3 retainer, which I also use in most medical malpractice cases; however, additional costs would be incurred for travel for a case in Pittsburgh, which might be justified in some cases, but might also justify consulting with a local attorney and going with the 40% retainer.


My opinion is that it is extremely high.

Licensed in Pennsylvania & New Jersey & Serving the Nation. Only 29% Fee Deducted. 1-877-258-3083.


Attorneys frequently have contingency fees from 33% up to 45%. I believe that this is highway robbery. I would recommend finding a lawyer with a contingency fee of less than 30% who covers the costs himself, so your parents end up with some money, not just the lawyer.

John Lassen 1-877-252-4630


In Washington State, the typical fee is 40% plus costs advanced, unless the case is such a slam dunk the insurance company wants to settle immediately, i.e., amputation of the wrong limb. Otherwise, medical malpractice cases are complicated, tough, risky and expensive.

There are few outstanding medical malpractice attorneys and a lot of attorneys who handle medical malpractice lawsuits so choose wisely.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney or if you do not have an attorney, consult with an attorney.


Most experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Pennsylvania charge a fee ranging from 33.3% to 40% plus costs. It is not uncommon for a law firm to spend $75,000 to $150,000 to get a medical malpractice case through trial. I don't know of any firms or attorneys that absorb the costs as part of the fee. Costs are typically recouped from any settlement or verdict recovered.

I know that some of the comments on here indicated that the percentage was too high. That may be and you could probably convince a firm to accept a lower fee percentage. I doubt, however, that the firm would agree to absorb the costs advanced as part of the fee. I can tell you that I would not do that in my practice.

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