Key Takeaways:

  • There are a number of potential additional costs when pursuing a civil case in Wisconsin. These include the fee to have your Complaint served, the fees for expert witnesses, and taxable costs (which may include filing and service fees, witness fees, minor Court fees, and some attorney’s fees in certain cases).
  • You may have to pay these additional costs out of pocket, depending on your arrangement with your attorney.
  • There are often very steep costs associated with going to trial (unless you have a contingency arrangement with your attorney). These days, trials rarely cost less than $10,000 on a non-contingency payment arrangement. This is one reason why so many cases settle out of Court.

Potential additional costs in a civil case in Wisconsin include many different elements:

  • Service Fee: In addition to the fee paid to the Court for filing a Complaint, you also have to pay a sheriff or process server to have the Complaint served.
  • Expert Witnesses: Some civil cases involve expert witnesses to testify on your behalf and strengthen your argument. Those witnesses have to be paid in much the same manner that the lawyer gets paid. Even if the case is being handled on contingency, the client may have to invest some money to pay the expert witnesses that are necessary to get the case ready for trial.
  • Taxable Costs: The other element of costs that may be necessary for you to pay occurs if you lose your civil case. In Wisconsin, the losing party in a case may be responsible for what’s called the “taxable costs” of the winning party, which apply if the case goes all the way to trial.

Many cases, of course, don’t go to trial, and they settle out of court. If a case doesn’t go to trial and settles beforehand, taxable costs are often a moot point.

However, if the case goes all the way to trial, and one party therefore wins and the other party loses, the losing party may be required to pay the taxable costs.

Usually, taxable costs include things like:

  1. The filing fee if the losing party is the defendant;
  2. The cost of having the complaint served on the defendant;
  3. Some of the expert witness fees (though not all of the witness fees that were involved in either taking depositions or having witnesses appear at trial);
  4. Certain other minor court fee; and
  5. A small amount of money for attorney’s fees, though one unpleasant aspect of the American legal system is that whether you win or lose, typically you are responsible for your own attorney’s fees.

Typically, even the losing party does not have to pay the winning party’s attorney’s fees in full. There are exceptions to that rule, but often, the winning party—even though they have won their case—still must pay their own attorney’s fees.

Exceptions to that rule are typically contract cases where the contract requires the losing party to pay the winning party’s attorney’s fees, and certain kinds of civil rights cases where the plaintiff may be able, in addition to collecting damages, to require the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.

Do I Have To Pay Out Of Pocket For Legal Fees In My Civil Case?

When it comes to paying legal fees, it all depends on your arrangement with your lawyer.

Oftentimes, though, these costs we are talking about—for example, the expert witness fees or the losing party’s payment of costs for the winning party—will have to be paid out of pocket by the client.

If My Civil Case Goes To Trial, Will There Be Additional Legal Expenses?

That depends on the arrangement you have with your lawyer.

In a contingency fee case, no, you will not have additional fees to go to trial, as the fees are based on a percentage of the recovery. In a contingency case, the trial, strictly speaking, doesn’t cost the client anything. It’s distinguished from a settlement before trial.

But if it’s an hourly case or a flat fee case, then yes, going to trial will incur additional legal expenses, and trials are very expensive. That is why most cases settle before trial. Very few trials in this day and age would cost less than $10,000, and many of them run into the tens of thousands of dollars. There is just no way around it.

Will It Cost Less To Settle A Civil Case Than Going All The Way To Trial In Wisconsin?

Again, the question of whether it will cost you less to settle a civil case out of Court rather than going all the way to trial depends on the fee arrangement you have worked out with your attorney.

In cases where the client is paying up front, either on an hourly or a flat fee basis, the answer is almost certainly that yes, it will cost you less to settle your civil case out of Court rather than going to trial. This is the reason that most cases do, in fact, settle before trial.

For a contingency fee case, on the other hand, it will not cost you less to settle the case, because neither the client nor the lawyer gets any money until the case is resolved and the defendant gets paid something.

The main advantages to settling before trial in a contingent fee case are that both the client and the attorney get paid earlier, and both avoid the risk of not getting paid at all.

Is The Fee Arrangement Less Expensive For Mediation In A Civil Dispute In Wisconsin Versus Going To Court?

Again, that depends on the sort of fee arrangement you have worked out with your attorney.

Typically, if the case goes to mediation before trial and it resolves, a party who paying by the hour or on a flat fee basis will receive a lower legal bill than if the case had gone to trial.

The exception to that rule, of course, is when cases go through mediation and the mediation is unsuccessful. In those cases, it can be very frustrating, because a fair amount of time and money may be spent mediating the case, and there is no positive result. Meanwhile, the parties have to go to trial anyway.

For more information on Additional Costs Of Civil Cases In Wisconsin, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (920) 759-8114 today.

T. Wickham Schmidt, Esq. A Professional Service Corporation

If You Have More Questions About Your Case.
Call Wick Today (920) 759-8114

Accessibility Close Menu
× Accessibility Menu CTRL+U