Questions from readers on civil lawsuits
Thank you all for you letters and emails. Today I have bunched together emails and letters I have received on related topics. Many of you have asked questions about civil lawsuits, costs of same and finding a lawyer. Here are answers to several of your related questions.
Q. I have a civil lawsuit I want to file. Will a lawyer take it on a contingency by gambling with me and my not paying him for his time?
A. Initially a lawyer would need more information to decide if there was a case. If it is an auto accident case of some kind then lawyers will usually take the case on a contingency and front the costs and when the case settles the lawyer gets paid. IF it is any other type of civil case then lawyers will normally only take the case on an hourly and they usually will not front the costs. They will leave it up to the client to pay all costs and hourly fees which can be substantial.
Q. If I file a case pro per what am I looking at in costs?
A. The cost for filing a lawsuit in the Indio court is $450 for the filing fee alone. Add on another few hundred dollars to serve the defendant. If there is more than one defendant then the costs cost goes up proportionally. Often the other side is not cooperative and does not answer written questions that are sent called interrogatories or they refuse to produce a document. The lawyer then has to go to court and make a Motion to Produce. The court costs vary from $60 for a Motion for Production of Documents, to a motion for Summary Judgment's fee of $500.
If you want to take the other parties deposition it cost $5.35 per page. A typical transcript runs 300-400 pages and costs about $1500-2500 plus an appearance fee of $75.
If you go to trial and need copies of the transcript the Court Reporter will charge you $518 per day or $259 for a ½ day. In addition you must post jury fees of about $150 up front. If you get a judgment and they do not roll over and pay you must file for a Judgment Debtor Exam and pay $60 for this court fee. If the court ruled against you then an appeal will cost $775 to be paid to the court and $100 for the clerk's transcript. When you total all this you are at about $5000 in fees to the court/state. This is not counting lawyer's fees for the time they have expended.
Q. Why won't lawyers I have called take a non-accident civil case on a contingency?
A. As a rule lawyers only take contingency cases when they are going against an insurance co because they know the insurance companies have money and there will probably be a settlement at the end of the case. However with a private individual there is no way of knowing if they will have the money to pay a judgment. A lawyer can handle a case for 5 years and then get a judgment only to have the defendant file bankruptcy. In a civil case the lawyer could put in hundreds of hours of work and advance ten's of thousands of dollars and right before trial have the client say I do not like the offer of $100,000 because I have to give some of it to my lawyer. They then decide they can do an end run and fire the lawyer and settle the case for the $100,000 with the insurance company themselves.
Dale Gribow has been "Rated" TOP LAWYER by Palm Springs Life Magazine from 2011-2019 and has a Superb Avvo Legal Rating. Dale Gribow has been Man of the Year 7 times including the City of Palm Desert and the City of Hope and Dale Gribow Day has been declared 4 times.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-565-0533.