Can An Attorney Charge for Travel Expenses?

My lawyer just settled my personal injury case.   At the time the lawyer distributed my share of the money to me, he withheld $322.56 for airfare and $150 for a hotel bill.   When I asked him what those expenses were for he said he had to travel to New Orleans to take the deposition of a witness  in the case.   Can he do that?

Yes, if the fee agreement that you signed provides that he is to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with the case.  That type of provision is part of the typical fee agreement in personal injury cases and therefore I would not be surprised if the fee agreement you signed contained that provision.   Your lawyer will give you a copy of your fee agreement if you cannot find the your copy.

Of course, the expenses incurred should be reasonable.   What is reasonable?   A Motel 6 is on the cheap end and a Ritz Carlton is usually too expensive.   Something in the middle should do nicely.   Most attorneys do not asked to be reimbursed for first-class air travel, although some may do so for international flights or cross-country flights.   You shouldn’t expect that your lawyer is going to eat at Taco Bell, but you should not be asked to pick up the tab for a big meal and expensive wine at a five-star restaurant.

If you have a problem with the expenses the lawyer charges simply ask about it.    I think you will find that most lawyers will be happy to fully explain all charges and will bend over backwards to treat you fairly.