Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our most frequently asked questions (and some questions that should be asked):
Do I have a good case?
We do our best to analyze whether or not you have a good case before we even agree to pursue your medical malpractice or legal malpractice case. That includes reviewing any relevant documents, like medical records and contracts. If we don’t think you have a good case, we will tell you. As hard as we try to predict whether you will win or whether the defendant will settle, anything can happen during litigation. Sometimes cases get stronger, allowing us not to compromise our settlement position, and sometimes they get weaker. We continually assess the strength of your case throughout the litigation and keep you fully informed.
How long do I have to sue?
There are time limits on when lawsuits can be filed. The time limit depends on the specific legal basis for the claim, your age and metal status, and the injury. It can be a complicated analysis. Generally, though, you have 2 years from the date of malpractice in a medical malpractice claim and 2 years from the last date of service in a legal malpractice case. This is not long. It takes time before a lawsuit is filed to gather records and documents, complete a thorough review, attempt pre-suit negotiation, and develop the best legal strategy for your particular case. If you think you have a case, do not delay in contacting us. We have set forth some of the more common deadlines in our article “Don’t Sleep on Your Rights: Statutes of Limitation and Repose.”
What is my case worth?
In valuing cases, we look at your damages, the strength of the case, the collectibility of the defendant, and the costs of litigation.
“Damages“ are losses suffered because of your injuries. They can be “economic” or “non-economic”. Economic damages are money damages that can be calculated. These include lost wages, medical expenses, out of pocket costs, and replacement services, among others. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering. In some states, including Michigan, non-economic damages are capped for certain causes of action, including medical malpractice. There is no cap on noneconomic damages in legal malpractice cases, but insurance companies generally will not cover noneconomic damage awards.
The strength of the case includes how clear liability is, the credibility of witnesses, and whether causation will be difficult to prove. The stronger your case, the more it is worth. For example, in a legal malpractice case where the attorney failed to file within the statute of limitations period, the breach of the standard of care is fairly clear. That makes the case stronger.
Most professional defendants are insured. Some aren’t. Some are underinsured. Individual defendants may or may not be insured. It is very difficult to collect on a judgment from an individual without insurance. If the defendant is “judgment proof”, your case is worth less.
In Michigan, clients must pay the costs associated with litigation. A case is not worth the total amount of potential damages when costs are considered. Sometimes, it is more expensive to litigate a case than the maximum potential recovery would be. Those cases do not have a high value.
We consider all of these factors in determining the value of the case. Of course, our valuation is just our best estimate. The defendant could value the case very differently. And if the case proceeds to a jury, no one can predict what they would award.
How long will it take?
Sometimes cases can be resolved with a phone call. Other times, it takes ten years to resolve a case. If liability is clear and the plaintiff seeks a reasonable amount in damages, many cases will resolve without needing to file a lawsuit. If the facts and law are not clear, or the plaintiff has credibility issues, the defendant is less likely to settle.
Some types of cases, like medical malpractice cases, have a waiting period before you can file your lawsuit. This adds time to the process. If there are any appeals of trial court orders, years can be added to the litigation.
Meanwhile, you might have medical bills to pay, rent or mortgage payments due, medications that you need, or other expenses and not have the money to pay for it. Because of this, even though we love going to trial, we work hard to settle your claim as quickly as possible for a fair amount.
How much do you charge?
Like virtually all plaintiff personal injury attorneys, we take medical malpractice cases on a contingent fee basis. That means that we do not charge you an hourly fee, and you do not need to pay us every month. Instead, we are paid when – and only if – we settle or win your case. If you don’t recover, we don’t recover. The industry standard provides for the attorney to collect 1/3 of the net recovery.
We generally take appeals on an hourly basis. Legal malpractice cases and commercial litigation we take either on a contingent or hourly basis, depending on the case. We know hourly attorney fees are expensive. We do everything we can to provide efficient services. We also only charge for what we believe is fair. We do not charge you for any overhead expenses, including typical copying or printing fees, legal research program overhead, or secretarial tasks. We also believe that everyone is entitled to top notch legal representation, so we work with our clients to establish payment plans that work for them.
What are the client’s responsibilities in a malpractice case?
The level of client involvement depends on the type of case and the injuries. In all cases, the client generally must answer written discovery by providing us with information and documents, and then signing their finalized answers in front of a notary. And as the plaintiff in a malpractice case, you will be deposed. You must attend mediation sessions and trial. Other than that, it is up to you how involved you are. Our malpractice lawyers will always keep you fully updated. And if you would like to attend routine court hearings or depositions, you are welcome to do so. Most importantly, we need to be able to reach you and have you respond to us promptly.
I want Hoffer & Sheremet’s Malpractice Litigators to represent me. What’s next?
We would love to hear more about your case. You do not need an appointment for a phone consultation. Call between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday: 1.616.278.0888. You can also email us or fill out our Free Case Review form anytime. Please have the following information for your phone consult or include in your email the following information:
(1) the name of the healthcare provider or lawyer,
(2) what you think went wrong,
(3) the date of the malpractice,
(4) your injuries and damages.
During our initial consultation, we will be able to determine whether we would be the right attorneys for our case and whether your case should be further investigated. If so, we will need you to promptly gather all relevant documents, such as your legal or medical file.
What other sources of information do you recommend?
Here are some links to websites with general information about the law, Michigan’s justice system, important procedural rules, and other helpful information: