Does the other side have to pay attorney fees and costs if we win?
Generally, each side pays its own attorney fees and costs. In a Washington personal injury case, that means the costs and fees come out of the settlement or verdict.
However, if your case goes to trial or arbitration and you win, you can get some costs back. These are generally known as the prevailing party fees or taxable costs. They are available if you “prevail” on your case. In a personal injury case, it means that you proved the other side was at least partially at fault, and that you proved an injury of any dollar amount occurred.
What costs does the other side have to pay if we win?
In Washington, there is a law (RCW 4.84.010) that lays out the types of costs a prevailing party can recover. They are summarized below:
1. Filing fees;
2. Fees for service to start the lawsuit;
3. Notary fees necessarily incurred;
4. Expenses to collect the records admitted into evidence This includes medical, personnel, employment, police, school, bank, or legal files;
5. Attorney fee of $200;
6. Witness fees of $10 per day and $0.51 per mile for the transportation;
7. The cost of the deposition if it was necessary to achieve the successful result; and
8. Any other cost authorized by law, such as interpreter services under RCW 2.43.040(4).
Usually, the amounts involved are relatively small, but they are important, too. Your lawyer should always ask for these after a trial or arbitration. Again, these are only reserved for a party who prevails at trial or arbitration.
This injury was not my fault. Are there any other ways to get them to pay?
Yes, there are a few other ways, but success is less certain or reserved for special cases. For example, if a party unreasonably fails to admit certain facts after requested, the court may order them to pay the fees and costs incurred to prove them. This is difficult to do.
Finally, in some cases, the other side may have to pay all the fees and all the costs. The damages incurred may even be enhanced.
Relevant to Washington personal injury cases, this is for things like:
1. Violation of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (aka IFCA), RCW 48.30.015
2. Violation of the Consumer Protection Act (aka CPA), RCW 19.86.090
3. Violation of the Public Records Act, (aka PRA), RCW 42.56.550
Seeking attorney fees and costs should never be the only reason for a lawsuit to be filed. You also should not count on getting much back from the other side, unless you are in a special type of lawsuit where this is available. Do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions.