Can you recover attorneys’ fees in a North Carolina lawsuit?

In Charlotte, friendly disputes over basketball, barbeque, politics – and every other possible topic – come and go easily, resolved with smiles. But serious disputes arise here, too, as they do everywhere. In some situations, the two sides are unable to settle their differences amicably and litigation follows.

In those matters, people often wonder if they can recoup attorneys’ fees if they prevail. In general, the answer in North Carolina is no, they won’t be able to recover attorneys’ fees. Typically, each party pays its own fees, no matter who prevails.

Exceptions to the rule

Exceptions to the rule can be found, however, where the recovery of attorneys’ fees under certain circumstances is specifically authorized in a state statute.

Common exceptions

Other common exceptions in which attorneys’ fees can be recovered:

  • Certain employment law claims, including disputes over wage and hour, discrimination and retaliation
  • Claims for unfair and deceptive trade practices
  • Claims involving trade secret misappropriation
  • Claims involving liens arising from improvements to real property
  • Certain family issues claims, including those involving child support and alimony
  • Certain estate-related claims, including challenges to wills
  • Claims for the recovery of real property
  • Claims to recover possession of personal property

It should be noted that this isn’t an exhaustive list of exceptions. More can be found in state law or in a discussion with an attorney experienced in civil litigation.

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