How do I pay the attorney for my case?

California law allows a plaintiff to retain an attorney for a personal injury or death case on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney will receive a percentage of the money that is recovered in the case. In most personal injury cases, attorneys can legally charge up to a 40% fee based on the total recovery.

However, in medical malpractice cases, California law provides a sliding scale attorney fee, which is 40% of the first $50,000 recovered, 33% of the next $50,000 recovered, 25% of the next $500,000 recovered, and 15% of any recovery above $600,000. Also, these fees are paid from the net recovery after costs, rather than from the total recovery. In cases involving a minor, the court must approve any settlement and the attorney fee is set at a maximum of 25% after costs.

The sliding scale for attorney fee recovery in a contingent fee case gives the attorney a greater percentage of fee for cases that are settled for $600,000 or less. As a result, it is important for a client with a very substantial claim (above $600,000) to have an attorney who is able and willing to pursue the case to a reasonable recovery, even though the attorney fee above $600,000 is only 15%.