The legal fee in a medical malpractice case in New York is NOT one-third.
Under New York law, the legal fee is determined by what is called the “sliding scale”. Under New York law, the legal fee begins at thirty percent for the first $250,000 that is recovered and goes down in increments of 5% as you recover money to as low as 10% for any recovery that is above $1,250,000. You pay a legal fee that is 30% of the first $250,000; 25% of the sum that is between $250,000 and $500,000; 20% between $500,000 and $1,000,000; 15% between $1,000,000 and $1,250,000; and 10% for any sum of money above $1,250,000.
Let’s say, for example, that you recover $850,000 in your malpractice lawsuit. The legal fee is
- 30% of the first $250,000, or $75,000;
- 25% between $250,000 and $500,000 or $62,500; and
- 20% between $500,000 and $850,000, or $70,000.
In this example, the total legal fee is $207,500, which is 24.4% of the total recovery.
As you recover more money, the percentage of the legal fee goes down. For example, if you recover $1,500,000, the legal fee is $300,000, which is 20% of the total recovery. As you can see, the legal fee went down from 24.4% with a recovery of $850,000 to 20% with a recovery of $1,500,000.
The most important thing is to keep the retainer agreement in a safe deposit box and review of a copy of it. You need to make sure you understand the retainer agreement and how the legal fee will be determined at the end of your case.