Medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely complicated. They often deal with complex technical issues beyond the purview of medical malpractice lawyers, let alone jury members. For this reason, most medical cases rely on detailed testimony from expert witnesses. Complicating matters further is the Canadian Medical Protective Agency (CMPA), the organization that protects doctors against malpractice claims and favours aggressive defence tactics.
The result is a system in which malpractice cases are exorbitantly expensive. Few plaintiff-side personal injury law firms accept malpractice cases in Ontario – Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is one of them. We are able to do so because we work on a contingency basis. In other words, our lawyers accept a percentage of the client’s settlement amount as payment rather than charging legal fees up front. This arrangement allows us to pursue justice without putting our clients in financial jeopardy.
A recent Law Times article illustrates exactly why medical malpractice cases are so costly and how contingency fees help lawyers provide access to justice. The article focuses on Cheesman et al. v. Credit Valley Hospital et al., a case where a plaintiff sought millions in compensation after losing parts of her hands and feet to amputation necessitated by infection.
“To be successful in a medical malpractice action, a lawyer is absolutely required to focus on what the case needs, not what it’s going to cost,” one plaintiff lawyer told Law Times. That means seeking out the expert witnesses necessary to convince a jury that medical negligence occurred.
“I firmly believe that one of the reasons we were successful in Cheesman is that we were able to retain a world-renowned infectious disease expert,” the lawyer explained. “He was clearly seen as head-and-shoulders above the other experts… That level of expertise comes with a cost.”
The plaintiff eventually claimed legal fees of nearly $2.7 million and disbursements of more than $660,000. Total legal fees for the case exceeded $5 million and the reports from expert witnesses are estimated to have cost tens of thousands of dollars each.
“I do not believe that a plaintiff will generally be able to advance a medical malpractice action without a contingency arrangement,” the plaintiff lawyer concluded. “All medical malpractice actions take thousands of hours of lawyer time, expert reports, easily costing in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 – and that’s before stepping foot into a court room.”
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a medical accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers will happily review your case and explain the next steps.