Statute of Limitations

Does a Personal Injury Case Have Costs
in Addition to Lawyer’s Fees?

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Does a Personal Injury Case Have Costs in Addition to Lawyer’s Fees?

Yes, there are. The costs and expenses often are not considered when someone hires a personal injury lawyer. They agreed to pay the attorney a contingency fee for the work the attorney does on the personal injury case. In addition to the lawyer’s fee the retainer agreement will also specify the costs and expenses incurred in presentation of a personal injury claim are also to be paid. People often fail to realize the extent to which the costs and expenses mount up.

Typical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit include the cost to get police reports, other investigative reports, loss of earnings verification, investigation, photocopying, long distance phone calls, overnight mail, the cost to file the legal complaint with the court, the cost to serve the complaint on the party responsible for the personal injury, the cost of subpoenas, depositions, and court motions. In addition to the these costs there can also be costs for using a mediator or arbitrator.

Generally personal injury cases which settle before the litigation begins require less cost and expenses than cases which are litigated. Nonetheless, even personal injury cases which are settled before there is a complaint filed in court can be expensive. This is particularly true when there are questions of liability. In personal injury cases where liability is questioned it is necessary to engage in extensive investigation. This can require employing private investigators and reconstruction experts who are able to determine such things the speed of vehicles before the crash. These investigations and accident reconstruction can become very expensive even before the personal injury case is filed with the court. Sometimes the investigation will reveal the case possesses little likelihood of success and will result in a personal injury case being abandoned without a successful result.

Once litigation begins the costs and expenses usually increase. There is the cost of filing the case with the court. There is the cost of serving the legal complaint and summons on the person responsible for the personal injury. There will be the cost of taking depositions. Depositions are sworn testimony taken before a court reporter. They are an opportunity for attorneys involved in bringing a personal injury case to find out what the responsible person will actually say under oath. This is a very helpful since it will reveal what someone will say before the case is tried before a jury. The cost to take a deposition can be expensive. It may be necessary to serve the witness with a subpoena. There will be a cost for this. It will also be necessary to hire a stenographer to take down the deposition testimony. Once the deposition is completed it is necessary for the stenographer to transcribe the testimony. In view of these various costs, it is common for a deposition to frequently cost $500 or more. The costs do, of course, vary around the country.

Often the deposition is taken of one or more of the doctors who provided care to the person who suffered personal injury. These depositions can become very expensive. The doctor will charge time spent in preparing for the deposition and the time in the depostion. The amount the doctor charges for a personal injury deposition is different in different parts of the country. In some parts of the country, particularly urban areas, it is common for a doctor to charge well over $1,500. If the personal injury case needs to go to trial the doctor may be called as a witness. The party who calls a doctor to trial will be responsible for paying the amount the doctor charges to appear. Once again, this varies in different parts of the country. In some areas doctors appearing at a personal injury trial will charge $5000 to $7500 or more.

As can be seen there are substantial costs and the expenses which can go into a personal injury case that goes to trial. If the case is a highly technical case, such as a medical malpractice case or products liability case, the expenses can be particularly high. The reason the expenses become very high in these technical cases is because it is necessary to hire experts. When someone contends personal injury was suffered as result of medical malpractice or as a result of a product that malfunctioned it is first necessary to show what the standard of care for the medical procedure is, or what is the accepted standard is for manufacturing the product. Experts who are familiar with the standard of care are required to show what should be done. These experts are normally very expensive. They are people who possess unique expertise. These are people who are often difficult to find and who charge a substantial amount for their services. In cases involving highly technical matters the costs and expenses prior to trial can approach or exceed $50,000. If the case actually goes to trial the costs and expenses can be far more.

Given these facts it is sometimes financial nonsense to go forward in a case for personal injury. The costs and expenses, not including the attorney’s fees, can be more than the anticipated verdict. It is for this reason people with legitimate medical malpractice personal injury cases or other highly technical personal injury cases are denied the opportunity to present their case. It just costs too much.

Must Costs of a Personal Injury Claim be Paid if You Lose?

Under most personal injury contingency fee agreements, the person presenting the personal injury claim possesses an obligation to make payment of all costs and expenses even if the case is unsuccessful. For this reason, it is extremely important for someone who is considering hiring a personal injury attorney to obtain a good understanding as to what will happen to the various costs and expenses if the case recovers nothing. Many attorneys will advance the costs and expenses and will agree to waive them in the event the case is without success. It is very important, however, to make sure there is a good understanding with the personal injury attorney before going forward.

In view of the various costs and expenses which can be incurred in presenting a personal injury case it is best to hire an attorney who is experienced. The more experience, the better. A highly experienced attorney will understand and be well aware of the various expenses and costs which are required by a personal injury case. The attorney can better advise someone as to whether it is good to go forward in a personal injury claim. There are some attorneys who pride themselves on taking cases to court. This is good, but can sometimes result in unintended consequence. The attorney may be able to eventually get a recovery in the personal injury action, but the recovery isn’t much once the various costs and attorney’s fees are deducted. The attorney may feel a good job was done but at the end of the day the client winds up with very little to show for a substantial amount of time and emotion invested. It must be remembered a personal injury case involves lots of emotion. There are sleepless nights. There is often lots of upset and distress over comments made in open court regarding the character of someone bringing a personal injury claim.

David Allen & Associates is a law firm with over 44 years of experience representing people with personal injury and wrongful death claims. The firm knows the costs and expenses of bringing an action. The firm is also well aware of the various emotions which can be involved in a personal injury case. It is a firm you can trust to get the best financial result as well as the best overall result, including your emotional well-being. It is not just about the money.

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