There were a lot of questions about what happens if someone loses in court. A lot of the questions were pretty complex to understand. I want a straightforward answer. I have a pretty big case that I wrote up. I am worried that if I lose, I'll have to pay lots of money due to my big case that had a lot of accusations.

I stand by the American rule where I do not have to pay the attorney's fees. The category of law that I am trying to sue is landlord-tenant. I can't afford a lawyer so I'm not even sure if I could pay off the losing fees against the apartment complex and his attorneys that are probably going to represent them in court.

Assuming I sue my landlord by myself, can I be responsible for their fees?

  • 2
    It depends on where you are and a bunch of other factors
    – Ryan M
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 9:05
  • Editted based on your other questions since it's at 4 close votes. Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 10:25
  • There are legal aid organizations which exist specifically to support tenants with navigating landlord-tenant law. You really, really need to find one and talk to them. Judging by your questions and other interactions on this site, you really do not have a reasonable chance of a positive outcome here if you don’t get outside help.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 21:39
  • Where would I start searching for help?
    – Esa
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 3:39

1 Answer 1


In California, like much of the USA, legal fees are rarely recoverable from the other side. The winning side still pays their own fees.

There are exceptions to this- the most common being when it's written into a contract. Obviously I cannot speculate as I don't know your contract. Consult a legal professional.

The defendant may also launch a countersuit, though again this would depend on the facts of the case. They can't sue you just for suing you, even if you lose.

You will of course be responsible for your own legal fees, as well as the court fees. Legal fees depend on your attorney and the amount of work that goes into the case. Court fees depend on the specifics and whether you can go via small claims court.

  • (+1) If by "pretty big case that I wrote up" the OP means the landlord-tenant matter from his other post, the dispute very likely ought to be litigated in Small Claims court, where attorneys are generally not allowed. Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 12:15
  • I have dealt with a lot of white racism at the apartment complex and a lot more psychological provokeness from other childish tenants in an area that does not have a lot of class value. I don't want to go to small claims. I want to do civil claims over 25,000.
    – Esa
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 3:44
  • "There are exceptions to this- the most common being when it's written into a contract." I'm not sure. As far as I am concerned, no contract can make a clause that conflicts with the law. Like I said there is a law that states I should not be responsible for the opposing side's attorney fees and my state is in support of the American rule.
    – Esa
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 3:48

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