This post continues our series on the Lawsuit Settlement process 101. In the last installment, we explained how attorney fees are calculated from the settlement. In this post, we explain how expenses are deducted from the gross settlement.
Every case will have expenses. Lawsuits cost money. Some more than others. This is the unfortunate reality of the American justice system, and courts in Oklahoma are no different.
There are costs just for filing a lawsuit and having it served, then there are costs involved in the investigation of the events and underlying facts necessary to win the lawsuit. Then you have all of the third-parties involved, such as the hospitals who provide the medical records, and the experts hired to evaluate the case or explain a scientific or authoritative aspect of it.
Types of Out-of-Pocket Litigation Costs in Personal Injury Lawsuits in Oklahoma
Here are types of possible expenses in a lawsuit:
- Fees for obtaining medical records from hospitals to review prior to filing lawsuit
- Lawsuit filing fees
- Process server fees
- Certified mail and other postage
- Fees for expert witness consulting
- Court reporter fees (for various hearings that you want recorded in case you need to appeal)
- Deposition fees
- Expert Deposition fees
- Jury empanelment fee (fee for jury trial)
- Costs of preparing demonstrative exhibits
As the case progresses toward trial, the expenses will increase. At the outset are the costs just to get the case evaluated. Perhaps initial evaluation requires just obtaining the medical records from the provider (for a fee) and then having an expert review those medical records (another fee). After the decision to file a lawsuit, there will be a filing fee and costs for hiring a process server to serve the lawsuit.
Lawsuits that are settled early in the litigation will have less costs than cases that settle at trial or right before trial. (But also, cases that settle closer to trial tend to be much bigger than the low-ball settlements offered at the beginning of a case).
The Most Expensive part of Lawsuits in Oklahoma
Probably the most expensive aspect of any lawsuit is the expert witness. Experts are expensive, and they charge for initial review of the case, and then for their own research and investigation, as well as each additional consultation or report. They also charge for depositions, but the Defense is responsible for paying those fees if they want to take the expert’s deposition. Experts also charge for their time at court hearings and for trial.
But experts are necessary in most Nursing home abuse/neglect cases and bad faith insurance cases. Experts are absolutely critical in medical malpractice cases and really any type of professional malpractice case. And it just seems that more and more these days, judges require experts in an increasing variety of civil cases.
All of this is not to scare off the potential plaintiff who has a meritorious case and deserves justice. Our firm routinely advances all of these costs on behalf of our clients, and we do not require reimbursement from the client unless we recover a settlement or verdict capable of compensating these costs. In other words, we take on the risk of the case, and spend our own money prosecuting it on the client’s behalf. The client does not owe us until we obtain money on behalf of the client.
A good Oklahoma Lawyer will keep Litigation Costs in check to protect the Client’s interest
Just because all lawsuits involve a certain base level of expenses does not mean all cases have to be unnecessarily costly. We make it a practice to keep costs to the minimal amount necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
I am very conscious of the fact that litigation costs eat into the gross settlement amount, and therefore ultimately impact how much the client takes home. For this reason, I keep costs in check and do not spend money that is not necessary to increase the amount of the settlement or verdict.