Personal Injury Cases: Costs to Evaluate Before Trial


Determining the case costs for a personal injury case is far from a clear cut calculation.  There are variables that can occur throughout the life of the case, such as the expense of expert discovery and trial that can add up quickly.  Before your client finds themselves in the midst of an expensive jury trial take the time to look into the future and estimate or evaluate how the case costs will increase as the case moves towards trial.

  • Basis of Your Fees.  Before you even begin the process, know whether or not you are willing to take the case on a contingency fee basis.  If so, be prepared to advance significant case costs.  If your client insists upon going to trial over settling, the costs can get significantly more expensive.  Make sure your client understands how litigating the case and the associated costs will affect their ultimate recovery.
  • What can your client expect to net?  Its a good idea to go over potential settlement scenarios looking at a worst case, average, or excellent outcome.  When looking at each potential outcome, make sure you consider how much the litigation costs can increase if the case if forced through expert discovery or trial.  When working towards a net recovery amount make sure you factor in attorney fees, costs, unpaid medical bills and liens.
  • Effects of Discovery on Expenses.  As the litigation process advances, you should plan to account for the costs associated with hiring expert witnesses.  Retaining an expert witness is expensive, and the longer the trial progresses, the more costly they become.  If you decide, during the discovery process, that expert testimony will be necessary to your client’s case, you will want to make sure you budget accordingly.

Rate the Risks of Trial.  Make sure that your client understands that, if a jury is necessary, the jurors may not award the full amount that he or she is requesting.  Jurors can be unpredictable.  It is imperative that your client understands the risks before marching to a jury verdict.

If you’d like to learn more tips regarding successful personal injury trials, sign up to be one of the first to know when we launch our new course, Signup to Settlement: Personal Injury Law Bootcamp.


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In his 20 years of law practice, Al has handled more than 40 jury trials. This experience, combined with a commitment to ethics and integrity, has earned Al an excellent reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area legal community. He is the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell‘s “AV” peer rating, which signifies preeminent legal ability and ethical standards, and has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2006. In 2009, Al was awarded the prestigious 2009 Civil Justice Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, given to attorneys who show integrity, grit, tenacity, ethics, and great advocacy skills, and who contribute to the betterment of consumers and/or injured victims and their families.

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