If I win a case, am I entitled to attorney’s fees?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The general rule in American courts is that each side bears its own attorney’s fees and expenses, unless attorney’s fees are provided for in a contract you have signed or in a special statute providing for attorney’s fees. In contrast, in England the victorious party typically recovers its attorney’s fees from the loser, who thus must bear the other side’s fees and its own. A major drawback to English approach is that people of average means cannot afford the risk of initiating litigation, even though they have a very strong claim, because of the possibility that they would be wiped out if for any reason they were not victorious.

Attorney’s fees are provided by statute, in some circumstances. For example, in cases involving copyright violations, discrimination matters, and environmental matters, there are special statutes providing for attorney’s fees.

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