Awarding Attorney’s Fees for Personal Injury Claims

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Brad Smith answers the question: “Do I have to pay a retainer fee to get an attorney to represent me in my personal injury case?”


Consider this scenario: You have taken a personal injury claim to trial and it appears the jury will decide in your favor. You learn the verdict: You will receive a larger sum of non-economic damages, along with economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages and expenses). After the trial has concluded and an award has been made, your friend asks if you still have to pay your plaintiffs’ attorney fees. He has heard that in a similar case, the defendant was ordered to pay all attorney fees for the plaintiff. You are confused. Why was this not mentioned by your attorney or addressed in the complaint?


mortgage-and-money-2-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Injury-Lawyer-300x300When are Attorney Fees Awarded?


Attorney fees are awarded sparingly in personal injury cases, and are not recoverable in medical malpractice claims. For declaratory judgments like an injunction (injunctions order the defendant to complete an action other than paying the plaintiff), attorney fees may be awarded at the Judge’s discretion and only in some situations; for example if fair and equitable, and if the plaintiff’s attorneys can produce the invoices. Attorney fees are also awarded in contract suit cases such as insurance fraud, real estate fraud, or consumer fraud. For example, if a merchant knowingly sells the plaintiff a defective product, the plaintiff can request attorney fees in their complaint, and if the judgment is in their favor, the court can compel the defendant merchant to pay. Conversely, the plaintiff can be compelled to pay the defendant if the court finds in favor of the defendant and further finds that the plaintiff’s claim was frivolous and without merit.


What About Penalties?


Sometimes an attorney will request that sanctions be handed down from the court due to discovery grievances from the other party. For example, if the defendant’s counsel refused to comply with a scheduling order deadline, did not produce documents, or complete interrogatories, the plaintiff’s counsel would need to establish a log of contact and then file a motion to compel discovery with the court. The court would then order the defendant to comply. Failure to comply with the court order will sometimes result in a “penalty” assessed against the defendant requiring him or her to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. If the defendant’s counsel habitually misses deadlines, is absent from court, or otherwise fails to meet their commitments, the plaintiff’s attorney could file a formal grievance, as could the defendant client.


Schedule a Consultation Today


If you are suffering from a personal injury sustained through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to a substantial recovery. However, damages may be capped if you are filing a personal injury suit, and recovery of attorneys fees is only applicable to specific instances. If you have questions about your potential claim or the compensation you may recover if you file, call our litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video, phone or in-person consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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