When you are involved in a personal injury accident, it is common to be left with a pile of medical bills. You may be out of work and are trying to figure out how you will pay for the bare necessities. Filing a lawsuit is one way to seek compensation after being harmed by someone else’s negligence or misconduct.
However, while this may sound like a good idea initially, there can be a substantial financial investment between legal fees, court costs, and related expenses. You should consider several factors before moving forward. Contact an experienced Ponca City personal injury lawyer to discuss the strengths of your case.
The Cost of Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawsuits
No two cases are the same. You should understand the key factors that increase the costs. This can help determine if filing a lawsuit is financially beneficial.
The most significant cost associated with personal injury lawsuits is attorney fees. Many personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which defers payment of legal fees until case resolution.
Contingency Fee Model
Under a contingency fee model, the attorney receives an agreed-upon percentage, usually 25-50%, of the final judgment or settlement amount. You owe nothing upfront; the lawyer collects no fee if the case loses.
An hourly fee arrangement is less common, where lawyers charge $200 to $500+ per hour based on experience. Hourly billing adds up quickly as the attorney invests time in investigation, motions, research, discovery, negotiations, and trial preparation. It also has more predictable costs but requires payment regardless of outcome.
Initial Court Fees
Filing the initial complaint and summons in the Oklahoma district court costs around $200 for claims over $10,000. You must also pay to have these documents correctly served on the defendant via sheriff, constable, or private process server.
Other early fees include charges for obtaining certified copies of medical records and paying court reporter appearance fees for depositions.
Discovery Phase Expenses
The pre-trial discovery process involves significant costs that vary widely. These expenses depend on the complexity of your case. The most frequent expenses include the following:
- Deposition fees for court reporters, transcripts, video recording
- Expert witness fees with potentially 10+ hours of preparing
- Medical exams by defense doctors
- Document procurement and service fees
- Travel costs related to depositions, exams, and other similar costs
For standard cases, discovery costs often vary widely and increase substantially for complex litigation with extensive discovery needs. Other potential factors impacting total litigation costs include:
- Case complexity
- Number of parties involved
- Geographic location
- Scope of electronic discovery
- Length of litigation
Realistically assessing these cost factors against potential case value and strength, you can determine if filing a lawsuit makes financial sense or if a pre-litigation settlement is preferable. A personal injury attorney can provide guidance weighing the costs versus benefits. They can also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case to help you make the best choice.
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Questions to Consider to Decide if a Lawsuit Is a Good Financial Move
Deciding whether or not to sue can be tough. There are many factors to consider when weighing if litigation seems worthwhile. It can be a good choice for some, but you may have better options.
A personal injury attorney in Oklahoma can have an open conversation to help you evaluate the situation based on your specific case, such as:
- What are the lawyer’s best estimates for the total costs through each phase of litigation?
- How do the projected expenses stack up against what you might recover in damages if successful?
- Looking at the available evidence and liability arguments, what are the real chances this would win in court or get a decent settlement offer? The lawyer can give you their honest take.
- How much time will this take for meetings, depositions, court dates, and the trial? Does your schedule allow you to commit to the process?
- Do you have enough savings to cover the legal costs upfront, or would you need help from legal lending or a lawyer willing to defer fees until the end?
- Knowing the details and having handled similar cases, does the attorney believe moving forward with a lawsuit is a viable way to pursue compensation that exceeds the total costs?
A cost-benefit assessment sets realistic expectations about viable compensation amounts, potential punitive damages, and time commitment, then evaluates the risks and costs. An evaluation from a personal injury lawyer in Oklahoma can provide critical insight on making a fully-informed decision before committing to a lawsuit.
Alternative Options Before Filing a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit is not always the only or best option after experiencing harm. It may be the option you hear about the most, but it is important to weigh your decisions before moving forward with your case.
Rather than immediately starting with a lawsuit after an injury, you can take time for back-and-forth settlement negotiations. A settlement can produce satisfactory results in some cases. This prevents the accumulation of unnecessary legal fees and costs.
An Oklahoma personal injury attorney can negotiate on a client’s behalf while demonstrating a willingness to proceed to trial if needed.
Mediation provides a structured dispute resolution process through a neutral third-party mediator if initial settlement talks do not progress. The mediator facilitates confidential discussions to find an option that works for both parties. Many cases can reach mutually acceptable settlement agreements through mediation.
Arbitration offers private alternative dispute resolution where an arbitrator hears arguments and makes a binding decision outside of court. It is typically faster and less formal than litigation. However, mandatory binding arbitration clauses in certain agreements like employment contracts can make moving forward with a lawsuit seem impossible.
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There Is No Fee Unless We Help You Win Your Case
When you work with an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer at BDIW, you do not have to worry about upfront costs. While we lay out everything initially with fees, you will only pay if we win your case. We help you from the very beginning.
Our team will walk you through each step so you are always aware of the situation. Contact us for a free consultation to get started with your case.
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