Falling victim to a personal injury comes with its toll on many things. Not only do victims suffer physical disability as a result of the incident, the personal injury affects their emotional well-being, as much as their families’ too. It might have also resulted in their inability to work, to add on all of the medical bills and expenses needed for them to recover.
And if getting injured as a result of an accident or a medical malpractice isn’t enough, the process of filing and pursuing a lawsuit is long, exhausting, and financially draining. Going from lawyers to court to defendants, you might find your way in over your head while you’re still trying to recover and pay for your medical bills. That’s not to say you shouldn’t file a lawsuit, not at all. However, you need to know what to expect once you start, and plan on how to pass this through.
In simple bullet points, the breakdown of a Personal Injury Lawsuit costs goes as follows:
1. Lawyer’s Fees
To be able to present your case in the best way, you’ll need to search among personal injury lawyers and hire from the most qualified ones. An experienced lawyer will be able to assess your case, manage your paperwork, deal with insurance companies, and ensure that you and your family get the legal protection you need, and the compensation you deserve.
Most lawyers charge their fees in what is known by Contingency Fees. Basically, these fees are based on a percentage of your compensation or of the settlement you get. If you file a lawsuit and then the defendant settles for your term, your lawyer will get 40% of the settlement on average. If the defendant chooses to not settle and the lawsuit progresses in further phases, the lawyer will add any costs and expenses they endured during the process. At the end, the percentage might get raised to fall between 45% and 60%.
While most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you might find others who bill you on hourly basis – otherwise falling under hourly legal fees. In this case, your lawyer charges you based on the hours spent on the case, regardless of whether your case wins or loses.
2. Court Costs
When you take your case to the court, you’ll be faced with some costs to pay. The first of these costs occurs when you file the lawsuit, which costs around a $100 to $400. Once you’ve filed the lawsuit, you’re required to serve a copy of both the complaint and the summons to the defendant, to explain to them why they’re being sued. You’ll need to send someone to serve the complaint and the summons to the defendant, and they have to not be a minor, nor a part of your lawsuit. Usually, you can seek the help of court officials, professional service servers, or law enforcement officers, in exchange for some fees. You can also send them by mail, which also costs some delivery fees.
Other costs you might have to pay in court relate to the coverage of testimony, where you can hire a court reporter to get a copy of the transcript. The reporter will charge you depending on the page numbers, on an average of $2 to $4 per page.
3. Witnesses Costs
When it comes to personal injury cases, you need to seek the help of an expert witness, not just any witness you find on your way. That’s because you’ll need to present your case with scientific and technical evidence, and the judges will put much more weight on the opinion of a field specialist rather than someone who isn’t qualified to make a sound opinion.
But expert witnesses are very expensive. One expert witness can cost you thousands of dollars, which can quickly go up to tens of thousands of dollars if you need more than just one witness. That’s because they’ll need to evaluate your case in-depth, prepare an expert report based on their expertise, and then testify in your case in-court.
Sometimes you’ll also have to pay for deposition fees, where you ask a stenographer to record your witness as they answer your questions in a non-trial testimony under an oath. Deposition fees range around $500 for a few hours long testimony.
4. Additional Costs
In addition to all of the main fees related to lawyers, courts, and witnesses, you’ll find yourself paying for additional miscellaneous costs. For instance, if there are any travel requirements for your lawyers or witnesses, you’ll be adding that to your list of costs. Similar costs cover transportation and accommodation.
Other costs are related to investigating and building up your case. Once you file your lawsuit, there will be a lot of legal investigation in which you’ll be covering the investigators’ fees, the fees of the police reports, and any other expenses needed to get the investigations done. You’ll also need to provide detailed medical records of your physical state, which will result in some more fees.
All of these costs might amount to to an estimate of a few hundred dollars. However, when the case extends throughout the duration of a few years, which typically happens with personal injury lawsuits, that number can very well double and even multiplied over the years.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit is even more draining than the tolls of the injury, as there are a lot of costs that come with the lawsuit. Starting from looking for the best lawyer and hiring them for contingency fees, to deposition fees, court-related expenses, seeking expert witnesses, gathering records of all of the medical and legal investigations, and miscellaneous costs that arise on the spot, the expenses of a personal injury lawsuit quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In order to be well-prepared to face the storm, you should calculate a rough estimate of all of the costs you’ll be charged with, and put it into consideration when asking for a compensation for your injuries.