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What are Court Costs?

When you file suit, you are required to pay the filing fee to the clerk along with other costs, and these costs can vary.  Court costs can vary widely in the state and federal courts of these states.  For instance, in Arkansas, it costs $165.00 to file a lawsuit in state court.  This costs benefits a variety of different agencies, including the Arkansas State Crime Lab and the two law schools in the state, which receive funds directly from the filing fee.  In some counties in Arkansas, the circuit clerk charges $2.50 for the issuance of a summons, which is necessary when serving the lawsuit upon the Defendant.

Arkansas, in comparison, has inexpensive filing fees in comparison to state and federal courts in Texas and Louisiana, where costs can range from $243.00 up to $400.00 for the simple filing of a lawsuit.  State courts in Louisiana also charge an array of other filing fees, including a charge for the filing of an Answer by a Defendant! Yes, if you get sued in Louisiana, you have to pay the court to file a response.

Once the suit is on file, you have to pay to serve the Defendant pursuant to the rules of civil procedure, which also requires a fee.  In Arkansas, it’s permissible for the Plaintiff to send the Complaint along with summons certified by the clerk to the Defendant by U.S. Certified Mail (so long as it is sent restricted delivery, return receipt requested).  This can also be accomplished in Texas, so long as the clerk sends the certified mail.  If the Plaintiff hires a sheriff or other permissible law enforcement officer to serve the Defendant, a fee is also required for that service.  And, it’s also permissible in these states (although Texas does have some restrictions) to hire a private process server to serve the summons/citation and lawsuit upon the Defendant.

By the time you prepare the lawsuit for filing, have the summons or citation issued, and serve the Defendant, you can expect the court costs and associated fees to approach $500.  You can also expect other costs to be accrued throughout the process of litigation, as some states may have mandatory mediation, fees to impanel the jury, court reporting fees, and other costs that must be paid in conjunction with filing pre-trial motions.  Many states allow the attorney in charge of the case to pay these fees in advance and recover them from any settlement or verdict.


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