There are certain costs that personal injury lawyers expect to be reimbursed from your settlement after they’ve deducted their attorney fees and they include:
What Your Lawyer is Allowed to Bill You
Medical records can be very expensive. Medical providers can overcharge you for providing those medical records so don’t blame the high costs on your lawyer, blame it on the medical providers. However, your lawyer should show you proof of billing.
Court filing fees
Court filing fees vary from one state to another so don’t be surprised if you are charged $500 to file a lawsuit.
Your lawyer should let another service, other than their in-house service, handle large photocopy jobs not only to save on time but money. There are specific services that offer photocopy services to lawyers and they tend to be way cheaper. However, others charge almost as much as in-house copy services. If this is the case, ask your lawyer if he owns the business because some lawyers do.
Process Server Fees
In order to serve subpoenas, depositions, document requests, serve the initial complaint of your lawsuit and to compel witnesses to appear in court, your lawyer must use a process server. The cost will vary depending on where you live.
Private Investigator Fees
Sometimes witnesses might be unwilling to come forward to testify. This forces your attorney to hire a private investigator to find these witnesses and serve them or to record statements from them if they are far away. The total cost of hiring an investigator will depend on the difficulty of the job.
Depositions typically cost around $3 per page to transcribe but if there are a large number of depositions, the cost might vary. If your personal injury lawyer is the one who set up the deposition, he will pay the cost of the original while opposing counsel will pay the copy rate. Every copy after the original transcript costs a fraction of the price paid for the original.
Expert Witness Fees
Expert witnesses can be expensive. Doctors can charge as high as $600 per hour. They also charge a premium over their usual rate for depositions and trial appearances.
They will also charge for any reports they write on your behalf such as MMI reports, which can cost as high as $1000 each. They will also charge you every time your lawyer talks to them. You can always take it up with your doctors if you feel you are being extorted.
Your lawyer will charge you for airfare if he needs to travel somewhere for a deposition. It’s up to you to make sure he isn’t charging you for first class travel by making sure you read your contract before signing it. Your lawyer will also charge you for taxi or rental car fees and hotel accommodation. You have to ensure that your lawyer doesn’t rent an expensive car or stay in an expensive hotel if that’s not what you agreed on in the first place.
The cost of mediation will depend on your location and the mediator. If, as part of your settlement, the defendant agreed to pay mediation costs, make sure your personal injury lawyer takes it off your bill.
If your case gets to trial, your lawyer may need to prepare trial exhibits like photos and other documents. They may need to hire a graphic designer to turn the exhibits into power point presentations or to make them more useful. If the graphic designer seems excessively expensive, you may want to ask your lawyer if they are related to them. Some lawyers hire their relatives to do these kind of jobs.
What Your Lawyer Will Charge You For That Won’t Appear on Your Invoice
Now that we have covered the basic items that will appear on your invoice, let’s take a look at other items that your lawyer can charge you for but won’t include them in your invoice:
Don’t be surprised if your lawyer overcharges you for making copies using their in-house photocopiers. Your lawyer isn’t in the business of making photocopies so they might inflate the price to make some money out of it.
If there’s a way you can manage to reduce the cost of making copies if you have to make several of them, then by all means don’t hesitate to do so. The great thing about having your lawyer make in-house copies is that you’ll be able to keep track of how many copies have been made so they won’t just be giving you a guesstimate. Most law firms have devices attached to the photocopier and they require a case code to be entered before copies are made.
Your lawyer will charge you for stamps as well as some UPS or FedEx charges in cases where they have to ship large volumes of sensitive documents to an expert.
Long Distance Phone Calls
Most law firms have a phone system whereby they enter a case code before making a long distance phone call so that at the end of the month, the phone bills lists charges that should be assigned to your case. If your lawyer has VOIP and is able to make free phone calls, he cannot ethically charge you for them.
Your lawyer should not charge you for local travel like traveling from the office to the courthouse. They can, however, charge you if they have to travel more than 50 miles. The IRS has already set a business mileage rate that your lawyer will us to bill you.
It’s not reasonable for a lawyer to charge you for incoming or outgoing faxes so it’s highly unlikely that they will.
What Shouldn’t Your Lawyer Charge You For?
The following charges should not be charged to you:
- Outsourced legal research. Your lawyer should pay for outsourcing his research and writing jobs because your attorney fee already covers this cost; he shouldn’t charge you extra for something you are already paying him to do.
- Your lawyer should not charge you for meals because he can take his tax deduction for “working meals”. However, it’s acceptable if he charges you for an out-of-town meal in case he has to go out of town for the sake of your case.
What You Should Expect From Us
At Kevin P Landry, we try to keep costs in personal injury cases down, as it doesn’t benefit us to run costs up. The fees that we will charge you are simply reimbursement of money that we have already spent and involve no profit. Besides, excessive costs can make it impossible to settle cases because the client won’t accept a settlement where he ends up getting nothing.
Call us today at 800-200-7752 to talk to any of our personal injury lawyers.