A major complaint with lawsuits is the cost of those lawsuits. These costs are often referred to as litigation costs. Litigation costs arise from attorney’s fees charged to prosecute or defend lawsuits, expert witness fees, deposition costs, court reporter fees, witness fees and court costs. Many businesses and government agencies complain about the cost of litigation that they have to absorb from lawsuits they must defend. Many of these lawsuits arise out of injury and death claims by people claiming to be injured due to the negligence of business or government personnel. Additionally, these claims arise from accidents on the properties of the business or governments, which properties are not properly maintained thereby causing injuries to unsuspecting individuals.
In a recent article, in the Inland Empire’s Daily Bulletin entitled, “Litigation costs rose 24 percent in Los Angeles County last year”, it was reported that in 2015, Los Angeles County spent $118.9 million last year in litigation expenses, which included judgments, settlements and attorneys fees. According to the article, the litigation costs break down as follows: $59.9 million was spent on 12 judgments and 233 settlements, while another $59 million was spent on private attorneys and county counsel costs and fees.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, in reference to these litigation expenses, stated, “It is simply a waste of money and it doesn’t make sense.” But is it truly the case that “it doesn’t make sense.” If legitimate claims are paid, then these judgments and settlements are not a waste of money, but paid to compensate for legitimate claims. With so many cases brought against Los Angeles County, the County however won its fair share of those cases. Specifically, the County of Los Angeles won 64 percent of the cases which were tried, with the County winning 80 percent of all of its appealed cases. Some of those cases may have been frivolous and a “waste of money” but many may have been legitimate, but were lost for other reasons.
Defendants who are the subject of lawsuits and litigation often complain of the cost of litigation and frivolous lawsuits. However, those injury victims also incurred similar litigation costs, including attorney’s fees and litigation expenses in bringing their cases against businesses and government agencies. The difference between the litigation costs for businesses and governments, and the litigation costs of the injured parties, are the injury victims are the least capable of carrying these costs. Governments and businesses, can cover many of these litigation expenses by purchasing insurance ahead of time. The insurance company then bears the burden of those expenses and the business only pays a premium for the insurance coverage. In other situations, such as with a government agency, they can allocate the cost of litigation by spreading the cost over a large number of taxpayers. The injured victim has no such sources of help to pay for their litigation costs.
Where does an injury victim get the money to prosecute a claim for injuries caused by another?
They have to turn to the plaintiff personal injury lawyers to help them advance those costs so they can stand up to the corporations, the businesses, the insurance companies and the government agencies and all their money they spend in defending lawsuits, even when these entities know that the claims are legitimate.
Personal injury attorneys spend thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars to advocate for their clients. Personal injury attorneys do not get paid if they do not win the case. So while the defense attorneys are working and being paid regardless of the outcome of the case, the personal injury attorney only gets paid if he or she is successful at securing a settlement or judgment. Under these contingency arrangements, the attorneys work on the hope that they will be paid in the future. They sacrifice for their clients, so their clients’ suffering will not go uncompensated.
Ultimately, once a case is resolved by judgment or settlement, those litigation costs are paid for by the injury victim’s compensation for his or her injuries. These costs can be significant and can be a serious burden for the injury victim. However, without incurring these expenses in legal fees and costs, those causing injury would not be held responsible for the injuries they cause. In fact, litigation costs is sometime the motivating factor in deciding not to bring a claim, or for a defendant to settle a lawsuit.
When an injury victim is looking for an attorney, they should consider the attorney’s ability to cover the litigation costs, and should consider whether that attorney will work to keep those costs down to the benefit of the client. At the Inland Empire Law Group we consider the impact of litigation costs on our clients and their recovery. We work to find ways to maximize our client’s recovery, while keeping the costs reasonable and appropriate for the claim. If you have had an injury and need representations in Southern California, especially in the Inland Empire, call 909-481-0100 and receive a complimentary case evaluation. We know you will be pleased with the service provided. CALL NOW, 909-481-0100.