People are often confused about how attorney’s fees work – when do you have to pay your own, and when does the losing party have to pay? This question is very important when you are faced with a decision of whether to “take someone to court”. In the United States, each party pays their own attorney’s fees unless a contract or statute states otherwise. Often a person is denied justice unless a contract or statute allows recovery of attorney’s fees because it simply does not make financial sense to right all wrongs.
Many consumer protection or debt harassment protection statutes such as the FCCPA, FDCPA, and the FCRA provides for the recovery of attorney’s fees. Attorneys act essentially like mini attorney generals in that regard. We can sue for someone under a statute that provides payment from an offending creditor for instance.
Contracts are another way in which attorney’s fees are recoverable. You might read in a mortgage or debt related contract that the creditor is permitted to obtain its attorney’s fees and court costs if it has to pursue legal action to collect a debt. While these contracts don’t clarify this, an attorney’s fee provision in a contract goes both ways, at least in Florida. If the consumer is the prevailing party, the consumer can obtain their attorney’s fees and court costs as well.