Depending on the details and circumstances, filing a lawsuit can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking. If you are considering filing a legal claim against an individual or entity, you may have questions about the fees and costs you can expect to pay during the process. In this article, we will explain the average cost of a lawsuit, the fees that may be involved, and who is expected to pay these fees.
What's the Cost of a Lawsuit?
Lawsuit costs can depend on a variety of factors, which may include:
- The court in which you plan to sue
- The type of lawsuit you have
- Whether the lawsuit involves a personal injury to yourself or a loved one
- The amount of the damages you are seeking with your claim
- The parties involved in the claim
- Whether you decide to hire an attorney to represent your legal interests
Here, we will break down several of the elements involved in a lawsuit to help you gain a better understanding of the cost to sue someone.
The Type of Lawsuit
The attorney you choose will likely charge different rates to work on different types of cases.
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, many attorneys will sign a contract with you stating that they will work on your case on a contingency basis. This means the attorney will only receive a fee if you receive a settlement or win your case at trial.
The amount of money your attorney will receive depends on the monetary value of your lawsuit, meaning the larger your settlement, the larger the amount of the contingency fees your attorney receives. This may cause some people to think twice about hiring legal representation for a personal injury lawsuit. However, you should understand that an experienced personal injury attorney will help you receive a much larger settlement or compensation than you would likely receive if you represented yourself against the insurance company. Tackling such a claim without representation may result in a less-than-fair settlement.
Personal injury lawsuits range from vehicle injury cases, trucking injury cases, birth injury cases, premises liability cases, and medical malpractice claims.
Small Claims Court
When there is a monetary dispute worth up to $6,000, you may sue someone in small claims court. These claims involve filing fees, which may vary depending on the rules of your county court's small claims division and value of the lawsuit.
Other fees involved in small claims may include summons or subpoena fees, fees for process serving, and other court costs.
For many types of civil lawsuits, the costs you may incur can vary widely depending on the nature of the lawsuit, the outcome you seek, and the party or parties you intend to sue.
Hiring Legal Representation
Obtaining legal representation from an attorney will undoubtedly be the most costly part of filing your lawsuit. Even simple cases can require several hours of work on your attorney's part, which can add up fast if your attorney bills by the hour (or any part thereof).
Filing and Service Fees
Pursuing any type of lawsuit will inevitably involve filing some kind of documentation with the court. The filing fees the court requires will likely vary depending on the where you live, the court where you are filing, the type of lawsuit you are pursuing, the circumstances of your claim, and many other factors.
When you sue an individual or entity, the other party must receive documentation about your lawsuit. In most cases, people don't want to hand these documents directly to the person they are suing. This means hiring a professional process server, who is a person tasked with serving the documentation to the defendant, meaning they ensure the party against whom you filed a lawsuit receives the documents directly.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase of any legal case involves the parties exchanging information about the evidence and witnesses they plan to present at trial. During discovery, both parties may undertake actions such as:
- Sending subpoenas
- Speaking with, interviewing, or deposing witnesses
- Requesting information from the other party
- Collecting evidence from various sources
- Hiring expert witnesses to review evidence and possibly testify at trial
All of these actions cost money, the amount of which can be difficult to predict.
Based on the specific circumstances of your case, there will likely be a number of other costs we have not covered, such as transportation, lodging, and other miscellaneous items. It would be prudent to set aside additional funds for extra or unexpected expenses.
Different Ways to Cover These Expenses
Many plaintiffs hope to receive compensation with their court judgment or settlement, which they plan to use to pay for their attorney and other related fees. However, unless your attorney agrees to work on your case on a contingency basis, you will have a significant amount of upfront costs that you may not be able to pay easily using your wages or savings.
You may consider applying for a loan to cover these upfront costs, such as a mortgage or home equity loan, which allows you to leverage the equity in your home in exchange for liquid funds.
You can also seek a title loan, which is a type of secured personal loan using your vehicle as collateral.
Some banks even offer personal loans with or without collateral.
It may be worth asking family members or friends for help with your legal expenses, whether as a loan or a gift.
Finally, your attorney may be willing to pay these costs upfront with the expectation that you pay them back regardless of the outcome of your lawsuit.
Is a Lawsuit Worth It? Bring Your Claim to Us
So, how much does it cost to sue someone? As you can see, the actual cost can vary significantly depending on the type and complexity of your lawsuit. The experienced attorneys at The Moore Law Firm will fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, contact us today.