In most cases, each side pays its own costs in a lawsuit unless there's a specific contract between the parties concerning legal costs or the court rules otherwise. The right to have a public defender appointed for you if you can't afford an attorney doesn't apply in civil cases, with some specific exceptions such as eviction defense, denial of unemployment compensation, and consumer credit problems. In most personal-injury lawsuits, attorney fees and other expenses are paid from the money you receive for damages. Your attorney may charge you a specified percentage of the damages awarded, called a 'contingency fee' because you only have to pay the attorney's fees if you win the case. When charging a contingency fee, the attorney often advances such expenses as filing fees and witness expenses, with an agreement that if you lose your case, you'll still reimburse these actual costs. If your attorney is charging you a straight fee, you'll be billed for any expenses incurred, in addition to the agreed attorney's fees. Lawsuits can be both time-consuming and expensive, and you should discuss the payment of expenses and attorney fees during the initial meeting with your attorney.