I get asked this question a lot.
It’s very smart to keep an eye on expenses. But I cannot remember a case where it cost so much to get the settlement that it wasn’t worth it.
When you file a lawsuit, you have to consider what it will cost, and what you will get at the end. The attorney fee – usually 1/3 of the total the insurance company pays – is the most obvious expense.
But other costs play into the decision.
If your health insurance paid for your medical care, or if you make a claim against your medical payments coverage that comes with your auto insurance, that insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement. This is called subrogation.
If you don’t pay your own insurance company back, it has the right to sue you. The payment can usually be negotiated – a lot of insurers will take less than they paid in settlement of their claim.
The other big expense is the out of pocket cost of pursuing the lawsuit. This always includes the cost of obtaining copies of your medical records, which is charged by doctors and hospitals. Another cost is getting an “opinion letter” from your doctor, stating that the accident caused your injuries, and describing any permanent injury you sustained.
Copying fees, long distance charges, filing fees at the courthouse, money paid to court reporters for taking and preparing sworn statements are other typical expenses. Your lawsuit may require special experts – a doctor to review all your records, a financial expert to describe your loss of earning power to the jury, or an accident reconstructionist to explain how the accident happened if the other side disputes the accident was its fault.
These expenses do not include any fees for attorneys – the attorney fee is paid for by the one third of the recovery.
But at the end of the day, the case is almost always worth it financially for the people I represent. A few months ago I settled a personal injury case for an older gentleman. My fee was 1/3; the expenses were about $15,000, and we paid his health insurance back about $12,000.00.
He still netted $300,000.00. His case was not typical – one of the hospitals had forgotten to turn the bill in to his health insurer – but he certainly did not complain.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I am always mindful of the expenses of going to trial; but if I don’t think my client is going to make money, I won’t take the case in the first place. If you want to talk about the costs of making the insurance company pay you what is yours, speak with an experienced Attorney – call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775 in Cincinnati.
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.