EARNING CAPACITY A "dibursement" can be summarized as an amount your lawyer pays to another person as a cost incurred to help advance your case.  

Often, a disbursement is in addition to a contingency fee that you pay your lawyer.  Said another way, the "contingency fee" is the amount you pay your lawyer for his/her time to advance your case and the "dibursements" are the amounts you need to reimburse your attorney for costs the lawyer incurs on your behalf to progress, advance, settle or otherwise litigate your case.  





Black's Law Dictionary

Money expended by an executor, guardian, trustee, etc., for the benefit of the estate in his hands, or in connection with its administration.The term is also used under the codes of civil procedure, to designate the expenditures necessarily made by a party in the progress of an action, aside from the fees of officers and court costs, which are allowed, eo nomine, together with costs.
The Law Dictionary Featuring Black's Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.



What are some examples of disbursements in a personal injury case? 

Disbursements - As noted above, disbursements are typically third party costs the lawyer incurs to try to resolve your claim.

Examples of disbursements include:

(i) the cost to file your claim at a court house;

(ii) the costs to hire an expert(s) to prove your claim (i.e. an expert may be a doctor who confirms your injuries or a private investigator who confirms how the accident happened);

(iii) the cost to hire a private investigator to confirm how your accident occurred;

(iv) potentially other office charges like photocopying or print charges (which should be discussed with your lawyer before you hire the lawyer so you know what disbursements you may incur).

Are disbursements ever included in a contingency fee?

On occasion, disbursements will be included within the lawyer's contingency fee.  This may depend on the amount of the contingency fee and the nature of your case.  With that said, if disbursements are included within the applicable contingency fee. With that said, you will typically be responsible to reimburse your lawyer the disbursements if you were to fire your lawyer or decide to stop progressing your case. Before hiring your personal injury attorney, it is important to confirm whether disbursements are included within the applicable contingency fee.

Other Related Definitions


Contingency (Fee)