Brien Roche Law-01

Attorneys’ Fees in Personal Injury Actions

There are occasions where attorneys’ fees may be awarded in personal injury cases. They are rare. When the court is confronted with that issue, there are several factors that may be looked at. The cases dealing with this issue are Manchester Oaks v. Batt, et al., 284 Va. 409, 430, 732 S.E.2d 690 (2012); Chowla v. Burger Busters, Inc., 255 Va. 616, 623, 499 S.E.2d 829 (1998); Lambert v. Sea Oats Condo Ass’n, 293 Va. 245, 254, 798 S.E.2d 177 (2017)

Attorney’s Fees Personal Injury Actions- Multiple Factors

The first factor of course that the court is going to look at is the time and effort expended by the attorney. This should be buttressed by an itemized billing sheet.

Next there needs to be some explanation of the nature of the services rendered and the need for those services. 

The complexity of the services needs to be well-defined. This may be self-evident but sometimes it is not. If it is not, then the court needs to be educated as to what were the complex issues that the attorney had to deal with.

There needs to be an explanation as to what was the value of the services to the client. The more substantive the need for these services, then the more meritorious is the claim.

The result of the litigation of course is important. The mere fact however that the result sought was not obtained is not dispositive. What is important is that the result in some way came close to what the client was seeking. 

Attorney’s Fees Personal Injury-Other Factors

Sometimes attorneys’ fees awards are governed by who is the substantially prevailing party. Some courts, in making that determination, look at the number of issues to be decided. The party that won on the greater number of issues is the substantially prevailing party. 

There must also be some explanation as to what equivalent fees would be in the geographical area. Some courts use a particular matrix as to what is allowed for attorneys of particular experience in terms of an hourly rate. That type of comparative statement may be helpful.

Finally there must be some statement as to whether or not the services truly were necessary. They might be necessary from the point-of-view of the client but there may also be some societal good that was to be achieved which should be pointed out. 

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on attorney’s fees see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with contract issues.


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Brien Roche

Brien A. Roche has been an attorney since 1976. Mr. Roche is admitted to practice in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. In addition to his busy law practice, Mr. Roche is also a published author of several books & articles relating to the practice of law.

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