How Much Does Litigation Cost?

Clients often ask the following question:   “What costs and expenses am I going to incur to pursue this case (either as a plaintiff or a defendant) in addition to the attorneys’ fees and paralegal fees I have to pay your firm?”   The answer is the generally the same whether you hire an  attorney on an hourly basis, an alternative fee arrangement or a contingency fee basis.  The real issue, however, is that costs and expenses vary from case to case.

Moreover, there is no way to anticipate all costs and expenses that may arise in a lawsuit because of all of the twists and turns that can arise in a case.  Certain factors that come into play include, but are not limited to:

(1) Whether you are in court or in arbitration/mediation;

(2) The amount of the claim you are pursuing;

(3) How many parties are involved in the lawsuit;

(4) How much discovery has to be conducted on your behalf during the case (e.g., depositions, subpoenas to third parties to obtain documents / testimony);

(5) How much discovery the other parties will want to take, or that you (the client) will want to take;

(6) How soon the case settles, if at all; and,

(7) Is the case going to trial?

Below is an overview of the types of common litigation costs and expenses that parties involved in litigation often face, and ballpark estimates of the amount of such costs and expenses. The list below is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide an idea of what may lay ahead.

Pre-Suit Costs.   Before filing suit, costs and expenses to the client are typically minimal (e.g., postage, third party copy charges).  However, if significant fact investigation has to be undertaken, you may have to pay for database searches (e.g., background checks) or private investigators, among other charges that may be passed through to clients.

Filing the Lawsuit.  If a lawsuit has to be filed, clients will may have to pay for court costs to file the lawsuit and to have the complaint served on each defendant. The following estimate is for a case over $50,000 filed in DuPage County:

1. Court filing fee – $337 , plus optional $230 to demand a jury at trial.

2. Summons on each defendant – about $60.00 each for Sheriff fee

3. If the sheriff cannot serve a defendant, a special process server would be needed at additional cost of between $75 to $150 per defendant, per attempt.

After The Lawsuit Is Filed.  After suit is filed, the costs and expenses can start to build up quickly. But this often depends on factors such as how many subpoenas need to be served and how many depositions need to be taken.  Again, each case is different and a client’s budget may limit how much costs can be incurred on a case.  Even if personal injury actions, costs and expenses will be either charged to the client monthly or deducted from any recovery made by the client.  There can be all types of costs and expenses once discovery is under way, including, but not limited to:

1. Subpoena fees to 3rd parties for production of documents – about $30 each recipient, plus postage, plus copy costs for documents.

2. Subpoenas for appearances at depositions/trial – about $30 each recipient, plus mileage expense.

3. Stenographer fees to attend deposition (usually $100/deposition), plus cost to transcribe any deposition $3.00 to $4.00 / page (depends on length of transcript, usually less than 150 pages).

4. If experts are needed, they are usually paid at their hourly rate, which can vary widely (usually $100 per hour to upwards of $1000.00 per hour or more – depends on the expert).

5. Regular copy charges.

6. Trial exhibit copies.

7. Preparation of large demonstrative exhibits (poster boards, power point presentations, models, videos, animations).

8. Postage and courier (e.g., Fed Ex, U.S. mail) – at cost.

9. Large project copy charges – at cost (typically no more than 25 cents/page). 

The sooner a case settles, the more likely it is that your costs and expenses associated with a lawsuit will be lower. If you should have any questions about costs and expenses, please feel free to contact the firm at anytime. Call us at (630) 560-1123 or visit our website at

   We are here to help.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not legal advice and should not be relied on by anyone as legal advice in their particular situation.  Furthermore, while DeBlasio & Gower LLC welcomes communications via its website, please be aware that communicating any information to DeBlasio & Gower LLC or any of its attorneys through its web site or via any other method without a formal engagement with the Firm does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between you (or any other users, senders or recipients) and DeBlasio & Gowerl LLC or any of its attorneys.  For your protection, please do not send us confidential information until you have spoken with one of our lawyers and received authorization to send that information to our Firm.  Thank you.