Can A Personal Injury Lawyer Charge for Travel Expenses?

Most contingent fee contracts between Tennessee injury lawyers and their clients have a provision that provides that the lawyer is reimbursed for travel expenses.  Such a clause in a contract is lawful, and will be enforced by a court.

However, if the contract does not have a clause that permits reimbursement for expenses,  it would not be appropriate for the lawyer to charge his or her client for these expenses unless he or she gets your express approval, preferably in writing, to incur those expenses that will ultimately charged to the client.

Are there limits to the amount of expenses that a lawyer can charge?  Yes, even if the fee contract does not put limits on the amount  of travel charges that the lawyer can pass on to a client the law will require that only "reasonable" expenses can be incurred.  

This means that a lawyer who travels for a personal injury or wrongful death client need not stay in the cheapest hotel in town but should not charge the client for staying in the most expensive hotel in town.  A lawyer wouldn’t be required to eat every meal at Krystal, but also could run into trouble if every meal was at a high-end restaurant.  A proper charge is a reasonable charge, and a reasonable charge is an amount that makes sense under all of the circumstances.

For example, if the lawyer must go to Manhattan or Miami on the business of the client, a reasonable hotel fee will be much higher than if the lawyer attends to client business in Springfield, Missouri.    A reasonable expenditure on food  will also be higher in Manhattan than it is in Springfield.  

So, if your Tennessee personal injury case will require your lawyer to travel out of town be prepared to have the reasonable expenses deducted from your ultimate recovery in the case.  If you have any concern about those expenses, either before the trip or at the time of the distribution of the settlement or judgment proceeds, have an open and honest conversation with the lawyer about your concern.


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