Here's what I mean...
You believe your doctor screwed up and caused you harm.
You believe your doctor was careless on a particular date and time.
As a result of his wrongdoing, you suffered long-term, permanent injury.
You find the best attorney you can to investigate your possible case.
He obtains all of your medical records and reviews each and every page.
Then, he copies all your medical records and hires the best medical expert he can find on the subject.
After a few months your lawyer calls you to tell you that his expert confirms that your doctor violated the basic standards of good medical care and as a result of his carelessness, you suffered all these injuries.
Now, because of a medical expert who confirms you have a valid basis for case, you can start your lawsuit.
There are fees to file certain papers.
There are fees to let the court know that we would like a conference.
There are fees to put your case on the trial calendar.
There are fees to file requests with the judge, also known as motions.
"So who pays those fees?" you ask.
If your attorney has agreed to accept your case to prosecute, in New York, that means he has agreed to pay all expenses and fees to proceed forward on your behalf. That means your lawyer will lay out all the fees, expenses, expert witness costs and anything else needed to prosecute your case.
"Why would he do that?" you again ask.
If you are able to settle your case or go to trial and are successful, then you have agreed to repay your lawyer all of those expenses and fees he paid on your behalf. It's like an interest free loan that the lawyer makes on your behalf. If you win, you have to pay him back. If you lose, he gets nothing. That's the risk he takes when agreeing to accept your case.
If you lose, your lawyer gets nothing. All his time, effort and energy for the past few years working on your case will be for nothing. Try and find another service provider or profession that agrees to be paid only if they're successful.
Imagine walking into a grocery store and saying "I'm only going to pay for my groceries if the food tastes good." Imagine going to a surgeon and saying "I'm only going to pay for your medical services if I survive." Imagine going to get a haircut and saying "If you screw up my hair, I'm not paying."
Try going to your accountant and say "Listen, I'm only going to pay you three years from now if the IRS doesn't come and audit my business." It would be outrageous! But that's exactly what medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys do. They say "Hey! We'll work for free for three years. In fact, we'll pay the court for all YOUR expenses on YOUR lawsuit. It's ok. We'll pay out of our own law firm pocket. If by some chance we're successful in getting you money to compensate you for your injuries, then and only then will you need to pay us back and then pay a fee for all the work we've done on your case, Ok?"
Getting back to the title of this article, who pays?
Then, if you win your case, you pay me back.
To get into the court house door, only after a medical expert confirms you have a valid case, we must buy an identifying number for your case. This is known as an index number. Then, after your lawsuit is started and the people you sued have responded to your allegations, we ask the court for a scheduling conference. There's a fee to request that as well.
When we initially investigate your case and have to obtain all of your medical records, who pays for that?
When we send all your medical records to a board certified medical expert, who pays the expert fee?
ONLY IF YOU'RE SUCCESSFUL DO WE GET REPAID FOR ALL THE EXPENSES THAT WE PAID ON YOUR BEHALF.
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