“If I Sue Someone, Can I Make Them Pay My Attorney Fees Under California Law?”
The answer to this question, generally, is no. Under California law, there are no general provisions for the payment of fees to the winning side. There are some exceptions, however: there are some types of cases which have a statutory (special civil code sections) basis for allowing fees to be recovered, although these apply only to a limited number of case types. In cases such as oral contract cases, car accidents, and property disputes, each party will end up paying for their own attorney.
There are specific exceptions, such as family law cases or restraining order cases, where a judge has the ability to award those fees to the winning side. In addition, if you have a written contract, you can have an attorney’s fees provision, whereby the winning party of a legal dispute gets to submit and be awarded their attorney fee costs. This is one reason why it is important to use an attorney when drafting contracts: the decision to add or delete an attorney fee provision is both important and strategic depending on your type of contract. You should always check with an attorney regarding the availability of attorney fees in your specific case.