I live in California and I am involved in a personal injury case in Tennessee. My lawyer here in California hired a lawyer in Tennessee to handle the case there. They want me to fly to Tennessee for depositions and mediation. Can one or both of these firms pay for my airfare and hotel? Is this customary? Or am I on my own?


Ordinarily, except for experts ordered by the court, expert witness fees incurred by the prevailing party are not an item of recoverable costs in California state court cases. Nor are “investigation expenses” a recoverable cost item. [CCP § 1033.5(a)(8) & (b)(1) & (2); see Davis v. KGO–T.V., Inc. (1998) 17 C4th 436, 440–442, 71 CR2d 452, 454–455; and ¶ 9:707 & 9:710 ff.] [2:471]. However, an exception applies in cases where “penalties” are invoked. Where the penalties run in defendant’s favor, the court has discretion to order plaintiff to pay the reasonable fees for defendant’s expert witnesses necessary for trial preparation and/or trial of the case (CCP § 998(c), ¶ 4:168.3); and likewise, where the penalties run in plaintiff’s favor, the court has discretion to order defendant to pay the reasonable fees of plaintiff’s expert witnesses necessary for trial preparation and/or trial of the case (CCP § 998(d), ¶ 4:172)[2:472].

Moreover, most attorney-client disputes are over fees and costs misunderstandings and other alleged misconceptions about the client’s desires and what the attorney “promised” to do; and most of these problems are attributable to a failure to reduce the essential terms of the attorney-client agreement to writing. For these reasons, written employment agreements specifying the operative terms and understandings should, as a matter of common sense, be executed by counsel and the client as soon as counsel decides to accept the case. Moreover, in most cases, written fee agreements are a statutory requirement. [1:102]. Various expenses traditionally associated with litigation (filing and service
fees, deposition costs, jury and witness fees, fees for hiring experts, etc.) are essential to effective prosecution of the claim. [See Ojeda v. Sharp Cabrillo Hosp. (1992) 8 CA4th 1, 8, 10 CR2d 230, 234–235 citing text)] [1:176]. It would be best to seek personal assistance from a lawyer in order to guide you with the procedure.

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