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What are the Costs in a Personal Injury Case?

It is often asked, “What are the costs in a personal injury lawsuit?”  This question is typically asked in a little bit different way as “How much will it cost me to file a personal injury lawsuit?”  These are in fact two very different questions.

Contingency Fee – Costs Come Out of Recovery

This is really what most people are getting at when they ask the question of how much it will cost.  They want to know what is going to come out of their pocket since most people cannot afford attorney fees associated with a lawsuit.  This is even more so true in those that have recently suffered personal injuries in an accident.  More often than not, people who have been injured are in a very precarious financial situation due to the unexpected medical bills, lost income, and other costs related to their injuries.

Most personal injury attorneys charge on a contingency fee basis for personal injury claims.  This means that there are no attorney fees unless the attorneys recover money for their client.  It also typically means that costs are taken out of the recovery (money awarded in a settlement or at trial).

Many Costs in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are numerous costs in a personal injury lawsuit.  The type and amount of these costs will depend on the type of claim, and the nature and severity of the injuries.

General Costs

There are general costs that are incurred in virtually every personal injury case.  These would include fees for incident reports, police reports, autopsies and other official reports that must be collected to determine what happened.

Medical Records 

Medical records must be collected in every personal injury case.  The medical records are necessary in order to prove injuries from the accident or incident.  Medical records collection can be quite costly due to the charges by the providers and /or the records custodians.  On a related note, they can take a long time to collect.  It is typically faster and cheaper for the client to obtain medical records directly if they can.

Court Costs

There are nominal court costs associated with personal injury lawsuits.  In many cases, personal injury claims are settled without the necessity of filing suit.  In the event that a lawsuit must be filed, there would be court filing and jury fees.

Deposition Costs

Deposition costs are typically incurred only when a lawsuit has been filed.  There are occasions where depositions might be taken prior to filing suit but these are fairly rare.

Where necessary, deposition costs can mount pretty quickly.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First, court reporters are expensive.  Their time is expensive and the transcripts are expensive.  Second, many depositions are now videotaped which entails videographer costs, which can also be quite high.

The bigger part of deposition costs will occur when the depositions involve out of town witnesses and must be taken of out of town or out of state.  This then requires all the typical deposition costs along with travel, lodging, and rental of deposition facilities among other costs that might come up related to out of town depositions.

Expert Witness Costs

Depending on the type of case and the nature of injuries, expert witness costs can be very large.  There are numerous different experts that might be needed depending upon the circumstances.  The possibilities for expert witness needs are too expansive to name them all.  This is probably not necessary for an understating of expert witness needs.  A few examples will probably suffice for a general understanding.

Medical experts are most frequently needed to prove injuries.  Costs will also arise related to the deposition of the other side’s expert who will be trying to disprove injuries or the cause of injuries.  These experts require hourly fees for their depositions.  They are typically doctors so you can imagine how these might mount.

Medical experts play an even more important role in medical malpractice claims.  Suffice it to say that an expert is required in a medical malpractice claim and these claims are expert intensive.

For accidents, it may be necessary to hire accident reconstruction experts.  This would be the case where the cause of the accident is disputed.  This might be true in work injuries, auto accidents, highway accidents, construction accidents and the like.

There are other areas that are very expert intensive.  The best example is a products liability suit for a defective product or piece of equipment.  These suits may require a host of engineering and scientific experts.

In a Nutshell!

The costs of a personal injury suit can be very high depending on the nature of the suit and the severity of the injuries.  However, these costs come out at the end in recognition that very few injured persons could afford to advance these costs.