Counting the Costs of Your Case

As a lawyer who handles a variety of consumer law and other civil cases I am constantly confronted with the application of a cost-benefit analysis in assessing cases and deciding whether and how to proceed.  Not to mention my prospective clients and clients face the same.  The fact of the matter is sometimes we have to let things go.  For example, if you have a case in which you stand to recover a maximum of $500.00 from an individual defendant (who may not be willing or able to pay any judgment you receive) does it make sense for you to spend $300.00 to hire an attorney to represent you on the case?  While this may seem an unlikely example the point is to weigh the cost of your time and money against the potential return on your “investment”.

briefcaseIf you hire an attorney there are times when you must make decisions about how to handle the litigation.  At the outset of the representation you should inquire as to whether your case is one in which you can seek recovery of attorney’s fees from the other party.  With respect to the costs or expenses of the case think about filing fees and depositions.  Filing fees vary depending on the court in which your case is filed or pending.  Depositions can be quite expensive and they typically comprise the largest cost factor in any case.  Civil cases involving complex or multi-party litigation and medical malpractice cases can cost in the thousands of dollars to litigate.  Setting a discovery plan and cost containment model (a/k/a budget) is a good idea whenever one embarks on pursuing a case.  If you are represented by counsel be honest about your expectations and limitations and listen to your attorney’s suggestions on how to proceed.

Too often cases involve great stories and facts but the economics do not lend themselves to a party affording legal representation.  It is ALWAYS a good idea to consult with an attorney about your legal situation to determine if hiring legal counsel will work for you.  And if legal representation is not an option there are places you can go to obtain helpful legal information.  These sources include Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and the North Carolina Bar Association.  Often cases can be handled effectively pro se in Magistrate’s Court a/k/a Small Claims Court.  Click here for a free online booklet regarding Small Claims Court in North Carolina.

NOTE:  Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice and the reference or suggestion of other websites or sources does not equate to Attorney John O’Neal or the O’Neal Law Office confirming the accuracy of the information found therein.  For a free consultation about your legal matter contact Attorney John O’Neal of the O’Neal Law Office.


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    1. What Do You Know About Case Flow? | Law and Life Blog

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