Hi, I’m Roger Ghai. And I wanted to talk today about the possible pros and possible cons of filing a lawsuit in your case. The first thing is really, that you have to be considering the time factor. Sometimes these lawsuits, whether it’s a pharmaceutical case or a simple little auto wreck case, especially in auto wreck cases, they go a little bit longer than what you might think.
So when I say the time factor, the procedure is this, we have to file a lawsuit. The defendant has to be served with a copy of the law lawsuit. If the defendant can’t be served, or found, or located, then we have to go ahead and hire an investigator, which can run up to $200, $400 to find the actual location. Then the actual process server has to serve the copy of the lawsuit on the defendant, and that might cost another couple hundred bucks.
And so, before … just at the outset the filing cost of the lawsuit itself is $250, $265 depending on the county. So, you might be up to very easily, $600, $700 in litigation costs at the outset. After the lawsuit is actually served on the defendant, they have 30 days to file the answer. After that happens, then there’s what we call in discovery, six months in Georgia, written questions fly back and forth between the defense lawyer and the plaintiff’s lawyer.
And then your deposition is usually taken. The client’s deposition is usually taken in my office. Sometimes we have to take the depositions of other people involved in your case. Could be a medical doctor. The court reporters aren’t going to take your deposition for free, so that might be running $400 or $500. If we have to take your doctor’s deposition, it’s not going to be cheap. Number one, we’re probably going to have to do a videotape deposition, which can run $3,000, $4,000. The doctor, of course, is going to want to get paid for his or her time. That might be up 5 grand, 7 grand. I know one doctor that just will … his minimum fee is $10,000 for a deposition. And so, those are the time factors.
The other factor that people sometimes don’t realize, it’s not only stressful for the lawyers, but it’s also, of course, stressful for the client. Because you’re always … Sometimes clients need the money really sooner. Nothing wrong with that. They’ve been injured, they need money to pay their medical bills and everything. And sometimes they rely on one of these loan companies, which is a terrible idea in most instances. Because it’s like user, it’s just shark loaning. And the client’s, all of the client’s settlement will be eaten up in doing that. So those are some of the cons of doing that.
The other con of filing a lawsuit is this. You never know, and nobody can ever tell you, what a jury is actually going to do with your case. If you get a good jury that day, you might do really well. If you get a bad jury that day, you might do really poorly. I’ve seen cases which should have clearly been won, in my opinion. And I’ve seen cases that surely could have been lost but they were won. And winning and losing is a relative term, because sometimes maybe the case is worth $300,000, and then the defense lawyer gets you to settle for $200,000. And so really, it’s not a win for you. Even though you recovered, you really lost $100,000, so it’s a loss. Because maybe you don’t have the right lawyer, you don’t have the right team to be able to go into court and fully prosecute the case.
So those can be some of the variables. Another variable that can be a factor in the case is, where does the case have to be filed? Those are things that your lawyer doesn’t control. It has to be filed where the defendant actually lives. That’s one thing. It could be a conservative county, and those folks might not believe … those jurors might not believe in giving money to people just cause they were hurt in the auto accident. Depending, even if, even if it’s a severe injury … Let’s say you were involved in an automobile accident and you had to have a hip replacement, and maybe a rod put in, and you might have to file that case in the rural Georgia county where the view of those jurors in those counties is much different than a city juror or a Fulton County or DeKalb County juror, where they’re more likely to give you proper compensation.
So, those are the factors. When I say stress on the litigants, sometimes people have made vacation plans, and we don’t really know exactly when that trial is gonna come up on the calendar. And the courts will usually give … We know generally, vaguely when we’re on the trial calendar. But you’re only given, a lot of times, only about three hours’ notice. There might be issues with getting witnesses to come to court, of course, preparation time, which means that you’re going to be answering questions in a deposition before trial.
You’re going to be answering written questions, working with the legal assistant from the law firm. The lawyer’s ultimately going to review all the answers and the responses. So those are sort of some of the downsides to filing litigation. The costs, of course, go up because the attorney fees typically will go up from one-third of the total cost to 40%. You could have, in a very simple case, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 in expenses.
And so, those are factors that sometimes people don’t think about. I’ll sometimes get an email from a client saying, “Just file the suit,” and they’re very upset with the offer from the insurance company. And then I will have to … we’ll have to have a meeting. Go after that, try to then, a lot of times just get the case settled for as much as we can. The pluses to filing a lawsuit would be that sometimes you can really do very well at trial. You just don’t know. Like I say, sometimes you could get a lot more than what you expected. But you have to be willing to put your own money into the case to be able to do that a lot of times. So that’s a plus.
The downside to it, like I said, is the time. So if you do a demand, a lot of times what can happen is if it’s a properly prepared demand to the insurance company, that means we’re not filing a lawsuit. Then what happens is we’ve got all the records. We maybe, put in there, medical opinions from the treating physicians as to whether this accident actually caused the injury or not. And if the insurance company can see without filing litigation that your lawyer’s pretty prepared, you’re really ready to go ahead, the next step would be to pull the trigger and file the lawsuit, you might be able to get this case settled fairly inexpensively and a lot quicker.
Like I say, sometimes this litigation, two years is sort of at the average, it seems. Sometimes I’ve seen the cases get resolved in a year after litigation, sometimes, one to four years. Normally, it doesn’t take four years to get a simple auto accident case resolved. But I’ve had cases that, there’s a little bit more going on than just the regular neck and back injury and the strain and everything like that. And they do take time to get resolved.
If you have any questions about whether you should file suit because it’s a serious undertaking and you don’t want to hire a lawyer that’s going to willy-nilly just file, be trigger happy and file a lawsuit immediately without fully thinking through all that has to be done … Because if you file that lawsuit you really have to be prepared to take it all the way through to trial. If you have questions, call me at (770) 792-1000.