Hiring A California Birth Injury Attorney

California birth injury cases are very specialized and require an attorney who not only handles medical malpractice cases, but birth injury cases also. Unfortunately, there are very few of those attorneys in California – and finding the right one to represent your interests means avoiding a quick scan of the Yellow Pages. Our legal expert explains why it's so important and how attorneys are compensated in this area of law.

Avoid the Yellow Pages!

J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice represents birth injury victims, says that many attorneys and law firms who advertise in the Yellow Pages are not experienced in this area of the law and may simply receive a phone call and then call contact a specialty attorney to actually handle the case. He explained:

These cases require a knowledge both of medicine and law, as well as experience. When looking for an attorney, it’s critical for the patient to ask how many birth injury or medical malpractice cases they've handled and what percentage of their overall practice is dedicated to birth injury or medical malpractice. Generally speaking, most personal injury lawyers are not qualified to handle medical malpractice or birth injury cases.

So many people don't realize that there are situations out there where healthcare providers either knowingly or unknowingly are simply not exercising proper safety standards when they’re acting as doctors or nurses. There are laws in California to address that, and that’s how I spend my time.

How are California birth injury attorneys compensated?

How are attorneys compensated in birth injury medical malpractice cases and what out of pocket expenses would a client need to pay? Dorit explained how it works in his firm and in California generally:

There’s never any out-of-pocket expense from my clients. In other words, they never have to write a check or pay any fees to me. I handle the cases on a pure contingent fee basis. For medical malpractice cases, there is a fee schedule where I get a certain percentage that’s limited according to California law. It’s a standard set of percentages.

In the higher-end catastrophic cases, for example when we settle a birth injury case, the percentage is usually around 16 or 17 percent. As the value of the case comes down, the percentage goes up according to California law. My office pays for the court costs of the case and does not get reimbursed for them unless we win the case. There’s a schedule that ranges between a maximum of 40 percent for smaller cases and up to about 16 or 17 percent for very large cases.

He says that this is all proscribed as maximums by California law and cannot be changed between the patient and their attorney. Attorneys have no right to increase those fees, although there is no regulation of fees for the attorneys who defend hospitals and doctors. They have the freedom to enter into whatever fee arrangement they would like with their clients, giving them another advantage over patients.