The case costs (money paid to build, maintain and resolve your case) are not paid up front by the client. These costs are advanced until a favorable resolution is reached in your case. The case costs are paid out of the settlement or judgment at the end of the case. Like legal fees with our office, you are not responsible for paying for case costs unless we obtain financial recovery in your case (unless other arrangements are made with your personal injury traffic accident attorney.) Note that case costs are separate and distinct from legal fees.
Case Costs – Case costs are the hard costs that need to be paid throughout the case to start the case, build the case, litigate the case and try the case (should a trial be necessary.) Examples of cases costs would be copying fees charged by hospitals to obtain copies of your medical records, postage on mailing a demand packet to the insurance carrier, the cost of hiring a private investigator to track down a key witness in your case or hiring your treating physician to testify as a medical expert at the trial in your case.
Legal Fees – Legal fees are not incurred on an hourly basis or even throughout the case like case costs are. Legal fees are earned as a percentage of the settlement or judgment in your case at the end of your case. Look to your attorney-client fee agreement for the specific fee percentages. Note that legal fees are calculated on of the gross settlement or judgment amount, so they are calculated before case costs are paid and before any medical bills are paid.
Back to case costs… In most cases, our firm can keep the case costs very reasonable. Certainly, in a case that does not require us to hire an accident reconstruction expert, private investigator or even conduct an insurance policy limits search, the costs will rarely be over a few hundred dollars (the cost of ordering medical records and billing). However, if the case goes into litigation, the costs can get much higher. The cost to file and serve a lawsuit alone will run about $750-$1,000.00. Depositions cost around $500.00 each. If the case needs to be prepared for trial, the cost of hiring expert witnesses can get to be several thousands of dollars. Of course, we will discuss larger costs with you before they are incurred. We are very conscious about keeping the costs reasonable in your case, because the costs come out of your settlement. We do this by focusing on case costs that provide the most value to your case, rather than spend money just to “fluff” the case. Make sure you are working with an attorney who is a good money manager and uses your money wisely.