Common fees and costs explained (without the headache)
If you suffered an injury and are considering hiring a personal injury attorney, you may be wondering what types of fees and costs are involved. Many times, personal injury lawyers agree to represent clients on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don’t pay the lawyer any money unless you win the case and receive compensation for the injuries you suffer.
To successfully represent your case, there are some costs that are unavoidable and must be paid to the appropriate parties (not the attorney).
Cost vs. fee: the differences
To most people, “cost” and “fee” mean the same thing. But in the legal profession, they are different. Fees usually mean prices that the attorney charges to handle your case. The contingency fee is usually a percentage of your monetary recovery, which is their compensation for working on your case.
The term “cost” can include expenses for nearly everything else in the litigation process. The most significant and common costs in personal injury lawsuits include:
- Court costs
- Expert witness fees
- Deposition costs
- Administrative expenses
- Investigation/information-gathering costs
In-depth look at the money
Court costs can include the filing fee, which is usually anywhere from $100 to $400, daily stipend costs for the jurors if your case goes to trial, the cost of serving the summons to the appropriate parties and filing a complaint on the defendant.
If you choose to get a copy of the in-court testimony, you must pay for the transcript, which can cost between $2 and $4 for each page. For reference, an all-day court session can cost $400 or more.
Expert witnesses can charge hundreds of dollars per hour to prepare their report, review your case, and testify during trial. In simple personal injury cases, this can cost thousands of dollars, but in complex cases, it can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Almost every case that goes to trial requires one expert witness because personal injury cases require you to argue your point and prove your case.
Administrative expenses are also essential and can include anything from copies, travel, postage, legal research, or producing trial exhibits. Simple and short cases won’t cost more than a few hundred dollars, but cases that go on for years, which are more common than you think, can go into the thousands of dollars.
The deposition is a sworn statement that goes on the record, though it’s not considered trial testimony. Usually, a witness is asked questions while a stenographer records everything that everyone says. Whoever requests the deposition must pay for the transcript and the stenographer’s time, which usually runs about $500.
Gathering information and investigating the case also costs money, though it is usually minimal compared to other cost factors. Options can include getting medical records, police reports, hiring private investigators, and more.
Many times, attorneys handle the filing fees, expert witness fees, fees to get records/reports, and more. However, these aren’t included in their cost to hire them; you must pay for these things regardless of whether you win or lose the case.
Most people don’t believe they have the right to negotiate fees with their lawyer, but you do have some room for negotiation.
When negotiating, keep in mind that although you may believe you deserve a majority of the money to pay for your injury, the attorney takes the risk to cover specialists and other fees, and they lose that money if you don’t win the case.
You always have the right to ask for lower fees. If the attorney believes you have a high chance of success, they’re likely to take a smaller cut to give themselves a win and help you. It never hurts to ask for a lower fee or ask for negotiations because it can help you feel more comfortable with your lawyer.
Points to consider before hiring
Lorenzo & Lorenzo offers free case consultations to potential clients, which is essential. We review the general aspects of your case and determine if you have a chance of winning. If so, the next step is to talk about your legal options, work on fees and negotiate with you. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay a penny if we don’t win the case.
No recovery, NO FEES unless you win. That’s our promise to you.