After the rigors of litigation and negotiation (or trial), a party can justifiably feel that the other side should pay their attorney fees. In Oklahoma, a court can only award attorney fees in the following cases:
- Lawsuit for labor or services rendered and a party did not pay, or a contract relating to the purchase or sale of goods. To be awarded your attorney fees in this case, you must win the lawsuit. Note: This does not include the scenario wherein a party sues a service provider (like a contractor) for performing substandard work.
- The parties’ written contract provides for payment of attorney fees. Usually these clauses require you to win the lawsuit against the other party.
- In a lawsuit to enforce payment of or to collect upon a check that has been refused by the bank because of insufficient funds or no account. The party seeking attorney fees must make a demand for payment on the defendant by registered mail ten days prior to filing any lawsuit.
- In a lawsuit to recover damages for breach of an express warranty, or to enforce an express warranty against a seller or manufacturer.
- A Defendant to a lawsuit can also recover attorney fees if he/she is successful in getting the lawsuit dismissed and the court finds the suit was frivolous.
- A party may recover attorney fees for the defendant’s negligent or willful injury to property. This may occur in an auto accident case if the court finds the defendant was negligent.
In all other cases, Oklahoma follows the “American Rule” which means parties to a lawsuit are expected to pay their own cases. Because each party bears the burden of only its’ own expenses, parties are not faced with paying more if they lose and are less likely to use the judicial system.