At Pace Law, we are strong believers that a person’s financial means should never limit or preclude them from accessing justice. The contingency fee arrangement (“no win, no fee”) makes claims much more accessible for many people – especially when they are already burdened with financial expenses of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and loss of income.
But that is but one part of the picture. We are fervently ‘pro-YOU,’ which means your settlement or court award is not unduly reduced by legal costs.
How legal costs can swell
Cheesman et al. v. Credit Valley Hospital et al —a medical malpractice action— demonstrates the importance of constant cost assessment in a personal injury case. In that case, the plaintiff claimed over $3.3 million in legal fees. Quite simply, medical malpractice suits are frequently very difficult and extremely expensive to pursue, and the legal team must exercise caution regarding expenses. Of course, since we are not privy to the specifics involved in representing the plaintiff, Cheeseman, we cannot comment on the appropriateness or necessity of the legal costs. Nevertheless, when a “battle of the experts” is involved in determining the action, soaring costs often result.
How legal costs can subtly guide strategy
A legal strategy should not be compromised by costs but that does not mean costs will not subtly affect strategy. For example, does the expenditure of higher expert witness fees result in testimony which is so demonstrably superior to that of other potential experts that it justifies incurring the additional expenses? The success or failure of an action may well hinge on that type of decision.
As expert testimony becomes increasingly expensive, and issues at dispute become increasingly technical and specialized, personal injury lawyers need to asses the value – the cost/reward ratio – of that additional evidence. At the very outset of an action, an agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant about limiting the scope of the issues being litigated can serve to prevent costs from unnecessarily spiralling out of control. Carefully and critically assessing the value of the evidence an expert can give is another way to manage costs. An early resolution of certain issues can reduce costs substantially by doing away with the need to retain an expert witness.