How we charge for our services
It is common for individuals to inquire about the cost of our services, specifically regarding the handling of their cases. However, it is important to note that the answer to this question is not set in stone and can vary. The determination of the cost of our services is contingent upon several factors that must be considered before a quote can be provided.
This approach is not a means of evading a fair and transparent pricing structure. Prior to retaining our services as Specialists, Collision Reconstructionists, or Expert witnesses, it is essential to fully understand the various elements that will impact the cost of our services.
How we charge
At IBF Investigations, it is not our preferred method to bill for our services on an hourly, mileage, or per-page basis. While this method of billing is prevalent in our industry, both domestically and internationally, and among various service providers, we do not choose to adhere to this billing structure. Instead, we typically begin by evaluating all potential billing items and then significantly reducing them to arrive at a single, all-inclusive price for the anticipated services. This pricing structure remains valid until the client is in possession of our final report.
If you were to appoint us, without any prior relationship, you might face the following fees, as of January 2023, for work in South Africa:
- ZAR 7,500* – Review an existing Expert Report and comment (agree or disagree).
- ZAR 10,000* – Compile a “desk report” commenting on the Merits of your case, based on the evidence already in your possession.
- ZAR 3,500* – Consulting fee, per hour (or part), if you would like to consult in person, via Telephone, or via a Virtual Meeting.
- ZAR 60,000* – To complete an investigation, including the scene, vehicles, and/or witnesses, and to compile a report.
At IBF Investigations, when we are retained for matters such as on-scene investigations, post-event investigations, vehicle examinations, review of repudiations, analysis of accidents, reconstruction of accidents, or review of merits, it is not always clear as to when such matters may ultimately proceed to court.
Given our experience with cases that have gone to court as much as 11 years after our initial on-scene investigation, our initial quotations will typically include all services listed up to, but not including the submission of our final report, and will not include court fees. Due to the dynamic and unpredictable nature of litigation, we cannot accurately predict the potential impact on our rates several years into the future.
Additionally, we are unable to predict the number of court dates, postponements, or potential settlements before we testify. In instances where we do proceed to court, our billing structure is specifically designed to minimize the cost to our clients.
Unlike some of our peers, we bill based on the value of our contribution, rather than solely on time spent in court. This means that in the event that the trial is postponed, withdrawn, charges are dropped, or the case is settled before we testify, you will not be charged for our attendance.
Furthermore, if our testimony is not required or our expertise is not fully utilized, we will adjust our billing accordingly. We strive to ensure that our clients are only charged for the specific services that are rendered.
All of this could happen. Therefore, we prefer to charge for court time, as follows:
- When your trial date is set, you will reserve us, and pay only a minimal fee (because we have to decline other work, for those dates).
- If we arrive at court, we will charge an additional attendance fee, considering the reservation already.
- If we contribute to the case in any way – consulting, etc – but do not testify, we charge an additional service fee.
- Finally, if we testify, we charge an additional expert witness fee.
Our current fees, for court attendance in South Africa, as of January 2023, are as follows:
- ZAR 4,500* – Reservation, per reserved trial date – to “block out our calendar.”
- ZAR 6,500* – Attendance, per reserved trial date – to be present at court (added to Number 1, above).
- ZAR 9,500* – Consulting fee, per reserved trial date – to assist with the trial, and cross-examination (added to Number 1, above).
- ZAR 12,500* – Expert Witness Fee, per reserved trial date – to provide testimony in chief, or during cross-examination (added to Number 1, above).
Therefore, the maximum rate you will ever pay is ZAR 12,500.00 per day, for our attendance at trial, excluding any direct additional costs, like travel, accommodation, toll fees, meals, etc.
*All rates can change without notice. Please visit this page for our latest fee structures.
Appointing us earlier
When it comes to billing for court proceedings, the costs are more easily determined as the work, commitment, time, duration, and location are fixed and predictable. In contrast, when we are retained to conduct an investigation in a particular matter, various elements of the case will influence the billing structure.
The following are the primary factors that we will take into consideration when preparing a quotation for our services in your matter:
Number of Vehicles Involved
In instances where we are not present at the scene of a collision, the number of vehicles involved can greatly impact the scope and effort required for our investigation. A single-vehicle collision, involving only one vehicle, would require a limited amount of time and effort at the scene. Therefore, our standard protocol of examining each vehicle would not be necessary. For on-scene appointments, we typically consider up to two commercial vehicles with their trailers, or up to four light motor vehicles as a “standard investigation.” However, when the number of vehicles exceeds this threshold, additional time and effort will be required, and special allowances will have to be made for this increase in scope.
Location of Vehicles
In certain cases, vehicles involved in a collision may be relocated to a significant distance from the scene. For example, in a specific incident, we were retained to investigate a collision on the N2 outside Stormsriver in the Eastern Cape. The Red VW Bus was available for examination at a local storage facility, but due to delays in obtaining access to the vehicles for a period of three days, the Land Rover had already been removed and transported to Johannesburg in Gauteng. This can also be the case with commercial vehicles, which are frequently transported to repair centers or storage yards of the owner’s choosing, which can be further from the scene. The relocation of vehicles from the incident location and it’s impact on the location of our work, it’s an important factor that we consider in our billing structure.
Location of the scene
We operate within the jurisdiction of Southern Africa, including but not limited to the territories of Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and potentially other areas within the Middle East. Due to the uncertain nature of collisions, including their location and timing, as well as the potential relevance of various factors in any potential litigation, it is our standard practice to conduct on-site investigations of all incidents, whenever feasible. As such, expenses associated with travel, including but not limited to airfare, lodging, and ground transportation, may be incurred and billed to the client based on the location of the incident and our intention to physically attend, either at the time of the incident or post-event.
Nature of the request (type of case)
We recognise that each case we undertake may present unique challenges and require a varying degree of effort, resources and time to properly investigate and/or reconstruct. The scope of services required may range from basic evidence preservation exercises, such as on-site photography and measurement, to the preparation of detailed reconstruction reports, animations, and advanced 3D models for use in court. Additionally, cases may require additional services, including but not limited to experimental testing, exemplar vehicle examination, research, data analysis, and review of expert reports. Furthermore, cases we take on can have multiple complexities and challenges like ballistic testing, involving murder by hanging, which require a different level of expertise. Given the variability of the cases we handle, we may not be able to provide an accurate cost estimate until we have a clear understanding of the specific nature and scope of the services required.
Travel, Accommodation, Toll Fees, etc.
In the course of providing our services, we may be required to travel throughout the territory of South Africa, as well as internationally. Due to the volatility of fuel prices and currency exchange rates, we may be unable to accurately predict the direct costs associated with deployment in advance. Additionally, various additional expenses may be incurred while traveling including, but not limited to, toll fees on certain routes such as the N3 and N4 within South Africa, accommodation, airfare, visa fees, or medical testing cost when traveling internationally. While we regret the imposition of these additional expenses on our clients, we are obligated to pass them on, unless they are not applicable.
Bulk of Evidence
The cases we handle may vary in terms of complexity and the amount of evidence required for investigation. Some cases, such as those involving a single vehicle and a pedestrian, may be relatively straightforward, while others may involve the examination of multiple expert reports, vehicle data or video analysis, complex dynamics, numerous vehicles, and multiple witnesses. These cases may require a comprehensive analysis and interpretation of the relevant evidence before a report can be prepared. As the complexity of cases cannot be controlled, we may not be able to provide an accurate cost estimate until we have assessed the full merits of the case.