DEFINITION of 'Attorney's Fee Awards'

The order of payment of the attorney fees from one party to another party. In the U.S., each party in a legal case typically pays for his/her own attorney fees, but in some cases courts can order the losing side to pay for the winning party's attorney fees. Attorney's fee awards are considered a characteristic inherent in the actual law, and the award is not contingent upon the level of court in which the case is tried. For example, a state court can award attorney's fees for a case involving federal laws or statutes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Attorney's Fee Awards'

Attorney's fee awards are also granted in a number of other instances, such as class-action lawsuits, civil rights violations and copyright and patent infringements or disputes. The actual amount awarded may not necessarily equal the amount paid by the plaintiff; many courts use the "lodestar" method billing, which multiplies reasonable expected billable hours by a reasonable hourly rate. The level of risk or complexity presented in the case also may also factor in to the amount awarded.

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