Law Firm
Matthias Teichner
Specialising in medical liability law and medical law
The cost issue: are lawyers affordable?

The so-called initial consultation costs – as is common practice – € 250 (incl. VAT, currently at 19%). This includes, on average, a one-hour personal session, discussion of any documents available (hospital reports, attestations etc.) and a letter stating the result of the consultation. If you wish for extensive medical documents and/or an existing expert reports to be included in the service, an initial consultation will not be sufficient. The costs for a consultation of this kind come to on average € 500 (including VAT). Generally, in such a case, a consultant doctor trusted by me will be brought in without there being at first any further cost involved. Before this can happen, you must of course release me from my legal obligation to maintain confidentiality for the doctor concerned.

If you have legal protection insurance, you are advised to obtain a statement that the costs of the initial consultation will be covered. The insurance company will also require information on the area of law that the case comes under (medical liability = contract law) and as far as possible the exact date on which the alleged event of medical negligence occurred (event date). The desired cover statement can only be relied on if the risk concerned had (already) been insured on the event data and was valid (be sure to take into account a waiting period if there is one). If the brief is subsequently taken on, we will gladly obtain the final cost cover statement for you and take care of dealing with billing with your legal insurance company. Should you encounter any problems obtaining the final confirmation of cover for extrajudicial matters - which may reflect the fact that, for example, the correspondence with the insurance company is getting out of hand - the matter should be discussed. In such a case, further correspondence by me and my firm may not be totally free. You will be told about this in good time beforehand if this situation arises.

For medical liability cases, within the course of the brief, additional costs may be incurred that your legal liability insurance will generally not cover, principally requests for photocopies of medical documents. I would like to point out however, that in some cases, we have managed to get the insurance company to cover these costs. You must expect to have to pay moderate costs for medical advisors whose counsel we are dependent on for obvious reasons. Even though I have been specialised in taking care of medical liability cases for 30 years, and have dealt with 2,500 cases, I must bring in a medical advisor for each new case. The actual moderate costs entailed usually come to around € 250 to € 500 and are billed by the doctors themselves. These statements, that are made either orally or in writing, depending on the situation, are of course not thorough, scientifically-based reports. Such reports can of course be obtained at any time, but are only pertinent and necessary in exceptional cases. For this kind of private report, correspondingly higher costs will be charged (on average in the order of € 1,500 to € 2,500). Legal liability insurance does not usually cover the costs of private reports.

My fees are calculated, as is common practice, in accordance with the German Lawyer Remuneration Law (RVG). After that, the fees are calculated based, in the first instance, on the so-called claim value (value in litigation). This comprises the estimated damages and the financial loss which you attribute to the medical negligence. If there is a risk of further damages in the future, this must be taken into consideration in the calculations using a value of X. In the second instance, the level of the fees is determined by the statutory fee scale. The RVG provides for a scale of 0.5 to 2.5. Usually the fees that I charge are in the region of 2.0 to 2.5, according to the length of the case, the actual time spent on the case and the importance of the matter for you as the affected party. Of course, the ultimate goal is that these costs be passed on to the opposing party as damages. This final result cannot of course be guaranteed, which is why my being involved in cases that are not covered by legal protection insurance necessarily entail a corresponding cost risk. This applies also proportionately in cases where a settlement is concluded with the opposing party. In such a case, the opposing party takes on the legal fees (only) in line with the agreed amount of compensation, while the lawyer is permitted (and obliged) to invoice this procedure at the end of the brief in accordance with the actual or negotiated value. This may result in additional costs. Before concluding a settlement however, I will talk to you about the consequences, so that you are clear about how much of the agreed amount of compensation will be remaining at the end. The aim is, as far as possible, to avoid any "unpleasant surprises".

If you do not have any legal protection insurance, I would like to give you an idea of my fees by way of an example: if the value in dispute comes to € 10,000 for example, then my fees will comes to between € 992 (RVG 2.0) and € 1,235 (RVG 2.5) plus VAT. If any fees were paid upfront for my services, they will of course be taken into account.

And last of all, a word on the issue of fee agreements: these are only signed in a few exceptional cases. This is not least of all, because these costs cannot be passed on to third parties. But once more, I will inform you in good time, should the matter arise.

If you have any questions, I am of course available for a consultation.

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