Personal injuries could be as commonplace as a vehicular accident, a slip and fall, food poisoning, or injury at your workplace but it could also be more complicated like medical malpractice, defective or unsafe products, or more serious disasters. Personal injury lawyers are trained to handle all these. Unexpected situations like these could force you to stop working either temporarily or permanently, and your medical bills could be piling up. This can be very stressful at a time when you need to focus on recuperating. You need the best personal injury lawyer you can afford who will look after your interests and get you the highest possible compensation amount.
Generally, your lawyer will try to settle your case out of court so you could collect compensation without having to go through the rudiments of court hearings. However, there are instances when the defendant stands firm and refuses to settle the amount you are asking for. Your lawyer may then decide that bringing your case to court is the only option. This will make you incur court-related costs.
The difference between ‘costs’ and ‘fees’
To the ordinary person, ‘costs’ and ‘fees’ may seem interchangeable, but in the legal profession, these are not the same. Fees are what lawyers collect for handling a case. Unlike general legal cases where lawyers charge their clients an agreed fee based on hourly services, most personal injury lawyers only charge a ‘contingency fee’ — if you do not win the case, they do not get their fee. However, because this is a risk borne by the personal injury lawyer, the fee percentage is usually on the high side, averaging around one-third of what the client collects. This percentage can go even higher if the case is brought to litigation.
Costs, on the other hand, refer to all other litigation-related expenses. Even if you end up not receiving the claims you filed for, and consequently, need not pay the lawyers’ fees, you still need to cover these costs. Here are some of the more common legal costs:
Court costs will often include the claimant’s filing fee, jurors’ daily stipend (in the event your case goes to trial), and costs to serve the summons and complaint on the defendant.
Expert witness’ fees
In some cases, there may be a need to call in an expert witness to give testimony. This expert will need to review your case, prepare a report, and testify during the trial. This can be fairly expensive. Simple cases could cost you a few thousand dollars while more complicated cases could run to the tens of thousands of dollars.
These would include copying and postage costs, travel expenses, legal research, and the preparation of trial exhibits. Cases that are resolved quickly can cost you only a few hundred dollars for this item but cases that run beyond a year can easily reach a few thousand dollars.
A deposition is a sworn, out-of-court testimony. Electronic recordings are often used these days but if a stenographer’s services are used, the time of the stenographer during the deposition, as well as the cost of transcribing it, will need to be paid.
Most of the time, medical records and police reports can be obtained free or at a minimal cost. However, for complicated cases requiring a private investigator or a researcher, these costs could rise significantly.
Deciding whether to go to court or not is a delicate balancing act. Try to go this route only if you have already exhausted all means to settle out of court. However, if litigation is the only option, a reputable personal injury law firm with a high success rate gives you the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve so you could start life again. Legal experts are always at hand to sit down and discuss these options with you.