The “American Rule” is that generally, everyone – winners and losers alike – pays their own attorney fees. (It’s called the American rule because in England, the rule is different – the loser pays.)
There are exceptions to the American rule. One – that doesn’t apply in most personal injury cases – is that a law passed by congress or the state legislature can provide that the loser pays in certain types of cases. Ohio allows attorney fees for violation of some trade secrets laws. The federal government has laws that require payment of attorney fees by the losers in cases of civil rights violations, and in patent cases.
In most auto accidents, there are no attorney fees available. Attorney fees might be available if:
• You can prove the other side acted intending to harm you, or that they acted in a manner entitling you to punitive damages. Examples would include driving while severely intoxicated, or in a reckless manner – for example, leading a police chase.
• In the case of a truck, that the driver or the trucking company was acting “with reckless disregard” of the safety of the public – for instance, violating a series of traffic laws at the same time.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Awards of legal fees are rare in auto and truck accidents; but their threat can help encourage a settlement. If you’ve been in an accident and want to know if you can get attorney fees, give me a call. My phone is 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.