Los Angeles Civil Litigation Attorney

How much will it cost to defend a lawsuit?

Douglas Wade, Attorney

As much as civil litigators would love to give you a straightforward answer, the truth is there isn’t one. It is impossible to know in advance how much time it will take to defend a lawsuit. Because litigators work on hourly fees, the amount of time it takes will directly impact the cost of the lawsuit. Then there are court fees and settlement or compensation to factor in.

We understand the desire to know how much a lawsuit defense will cost in advance, but there is no simple answer. This article will offer some indications of what may make a lawsuit more expensive.

What Factors Impact the Cost to Defend Against Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation lawsuits can vary greatly in terms of cost. Our civil litigation attorneys have defended lawsuits that cost $20,000 and others that were well over $1 million. So what factors into how much these lawsuits will cost?

Complexity of the lawsuit – If the lawsuit requires thousands of documents as evidence and a number of witnesses, then it will cost more. The time your legal counsel spends reviewing the cases and subpoenaing testimony or evidence will add up quickly.

The opponent’s objectives – In some cases, a plaintiff is just a person who was injured and seeking damages. In other cases, the plaintiff wants to do damage in the form of wasting time and money and dragging your reputation through the mud. We will be able to identify the objectives of your opponent very quickly and take steps to minimize the damage, but it is harder to settle with a plaintiff that does not want to settle.

Damages and compensation – The total amount of damages and compensation can affect the cost of the lawsuit, not just because you will be paying more if you lose. The higher the amount of compensation, the less likely defendants are to settle. We don’t blame them, but sometimes it is much more cost-effective to settle than to run up huge litigation bills only for the judge to award the plaintiff the compensation they requested in the first place. When we advise our clients, we do so on the strength of the case, their business objectives, and the client’s budget. We will present all options to ensure they can make an informed decision.

The experience of the plaintiff’s legal team – While it is easy to assume that the less experienced a lawyer is, the easier it is to win against them, this is not always the case. An inexperienced opposing lawyer can make it more expensive because they have something to prove. They will not know when a case is weak and will be easily swayed by the emotions of their client. An experienced attorney seeks to resolve a lawsuit to benefit their client. This often means seeking a fair settlement and not taking any cheap shots at the defendant.

On top of this, surprises will often crop up during the course of a lawsuit. A witness may change their testimony, or a ruling may not go the way we expect.

While there is no way to determine exactly how much it will cost to defend a lawsuit, your attorney should at least be upfront about their expectations. They should provide you with a quote, be clear it is an estimate and not a guarantee, and they should communicate when things are looking more expensive than they expected.

When considering a civil litigation defense quote, think of it as a lower figure. Your attorney will often factor in unexpected circumstances, but it is much better to be prepared for the cost to be higher. Do not choose your litigator based on price alone, as the price is not set.

Speak to a Civil Litigation Attorney

Are you facing litigation in a California civil lawsuit? Contact a lawyer today to speak about the details of your case.