Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you recover damages and pay for the costs incurred due to medical bills, lost wages, reduced future earnings potential, and pain and suffering.
A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the median final award in personal injury cases is $30,000, which can go a long way toward paying medical bills and other expenses. But the cost of going to trial can eat into your total award, so it’s for personal injury victims to understand what expenses they may be responsible for when pursuing a personal injury claim.
So how much does a personal injury lawsuit cost?
The main costs associated with a personal injury lawsuit include legal fees, court filing, expert witness, and administrative costs. Depending on the complexity and length of your lawsuit, your total costs could range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer isn’t always necessary after an accident. If you live in a no-fault insurance state and your injuries are minor, then you’ll typically be able to get compensation for your damages by filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your insurance provider. In cases where you don’t have enough coverage to pay for your damages, you may also be able to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company to cover your remaining damages.
However, even in no-fault states, some circumstances may necessitate hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Suppose you are severely injured in an accident, like a car accident or slip and fall, due to someone else’s negligence. In that case, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In this case, a personal injury lawyer can help you build your case, negotiate settlements with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and represent you in court if you cannot reach a settlement.
Before hiring an attorney, it’s important to consider the circumstances of your accident and the severity of your injuries. Litigation costs can be very expensive, so it’s best to be sure you need a lawyer before taking on this expense.
Your attorney should also be knowledgeable of the laws and procedures in your state and any applicable statutes of limitations or other regulations that may affect your case. Ask potential lawyers if they have experience with cases like yours, and research their qualifications online.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Costs: What to Expect
A personal injury lawsuit comes with many costs, and those who have never been in a similar situation might be surprised at how quickly these expenses can add up.
Personal injury lawsuit costs include attorney fees, court fees, administrative costs, and a variety of miscellaneous expenses.
It's important to understand that the cost of a personal injury lawsuit goes beyond just hiring a lawyer. A successful case can require multiple court appearances, legal filings, lengthy discovery phases, expert witnesses, and other expenses. While some of these costs can be avoided if you reach a settlement agreement with the defending insurance company, this isn’t always the case.
Here are some of the most common expenses you should consider before pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
One of the biggest costs associated with filing a lawsuit is paying an attorney. A good litigator can cost anywhere from $250 - $400 per hour, although many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means the lawyer takes a percentage of any settlement or award that is obtained as payment for their services. If you lose your case, you will still owe any out-of-pocket costs associated with the lawsuit.
Hiring on contingency is one of the most cost-effective options for plaintiffs who don’t have the cash to pay an attorney’s rate out of their own pockets. Personal injury victims, in particular, often find themselves in a poor financial situation after an accident due to medical bills and lost wages.
The main drawback of hiring on contingency is that attorneys may be less likely to take on smaller cases or cases where the odds of success are low.
In most cases, personal injury attorneys take a smaller percentage of your award (usually about 30%) if the case is settled before trial and a larger percentage (about 40%) if your case goes to trial. Discuss the fee structure with any potential attorney before hiring one.
Expert testimony fees
Witness fees are a significant expenditure when dealing with personal injury cases. Your attorney may rely on testimony from experts to build your case and support your claims. For example, suppose you want to prove that your injuries require extensive recovery time and costly medical treatments. In that case, you might rely on a doctor’s testimony to certify the total cost of your treatment.
But hiring an expert to provide testimony isn’t cheap, and depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you might need several experts to testify, significantly increasing your total litigation costs.
Court filing fees
To file a lawsuit, you’ll typically need to pay filing fees and other court costs, including the cost of service of process.
While these fees are often only tens of dollars each, they can add up quickly over the course of a trial. You might pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in court filing fees by the time the trial concludes.
Administrative costs include various things like transcription, postage, messaging, copying, and delivery fees. It may also include constructing exhibits for courtroom presentations and hiring court reporters to conduct depositions.
The legal process is very document-intensive, and administrative costs can add up to thousands of dollars if your case makes it to trial. These costs may be reduced if you can reach a settlement agreement.
Throughout a personal injury lawsuit, there are a variety of miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses you might incur.
This could include travel costs for yourself, your attorney, witnesses, food costs, rental cars, legal research, and more. These costs can vary significantly depending on the specific requirements of your case, but it’s important to keep these in mind when budgeting for a lawsuit.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Trial Cost?
Since the total cost of a personal injury lawsuit depends largely on the circumstances surrounding your case, it’s difficult to say precisely how much you should expect to pay.
For a simple lawsuit that doesn’t require expert testimony and has a speedy trial, your total costs, including attorney fees and administrative expenses, might range from $10,000 to $15,000+.
More complex cases that require multiple expert witnesses, excessive travel, and multiple litigators could cost tens of thousands of dollars and, in extreme cases, upwards of $100,000.
Your attorney’s contingency fee will play a prominent role in the total cost of your lawsuit. For example, if your attorney charges a 30% contingency fee and you are awarded $100,000 in damages, you would pay $30,000 in lawyer fees alone. On top of this, you should expect to add a few more thousand dollars for administrative expenses and other out-of-pocket costs.
Legal Resources for Injured Folks
When you’re injured in an accident, it’s important to know what steps to take next to find an attorney and start pursuing your case. Knowing where to look will help expedite this process so that you can begin your road to recovery.
Here are a few helpful legal resources for people interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The American Bar Association (ABA)
The American Bar Association (ABA) is a great place to start when looking for resources related to injury law. The ABA provides a wealth of information on topics such as auto accidents, medical malpractice, and other personal injury cases. It also lists qualified attorneys who specialize in these areas.
USA.gov is a great resource for finding and researching attorneys who specialize in personal injury law. The website provides an extensive database of lawyers, including contact information, reviews, and more.
USA.gov helps disadvantaged individuals find affordable legal aid, and the website includes links to resources to help people with certain backgrounds, including veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.
The American Association for Justice (AAJ)
The American Association for Justice (AAJ) is an organization dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of individuals who have been injured by the negligent or wrongful conduct of others. As part of its mission, AAJ provides resources for attorneys specializing in personal injury law, including continuing education courses and seminars. AAJ also offers a directory of member attorneys who are qualified to represent clients in personal injury cases.
The Law Dictionary
The Law Dictionary is an online legal resource that helps individuals learn and understand a wide range of legal topics, including personal injury law.
If you’ve suffered an injury after an accident, you can visit The Law Dictionary to learn more about your rights, whether or not you are able to file a lawsuit, and how to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.
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