I hired a lawyer to help me with a personal injury case. The case has settled. I agreed to pay him one-third of my recovery and his expenses. He has sent me his expenses and it includes 3 flights on his plane to and from the city where I live. The cost of these flights was $1500 each way – a total of $9000. A commercial flight is only a couple hundred dollars per trip. Do I have to pay this money?
A key factor is the language of your contract. Did the lawyer disclose that he would be traveling on his private plane and the cost of each trip? If all of this was disclosed and you agreed in advance to pay these charges, you are probably stuck with the charges (although there is no harm in asking the lawyer to waive a portion of the charges).
Private plane flight is very expensive, and many lawyers who fly their own plane will not charge the cost of using the plane but instead will only charge the amount that it would have cost to fly the same trip on a commercial flight.
I recommend that you should never hire a lawyer who insists upon billing you for the cost of his or her plane for more than the cost of a commercial flight. These expenses can add up in a hurry. While I certainly understand that the lawyer may save time flying a private plane, the lawyer should not be charging you for the benefit he or she gets from saving time. If you don’t have a problem with your lawyer using a private plane for travel, make sure you have a clear, written understanding about when it will be used and how much it will cost per hour or mile.