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What Happens If You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Nobody files a car accident lawsuit planning to lose. Unfortunately, you may think the evidence clearly shows you are not at fault for what happened, but the judge or jury may see it differently. The final ruling may not be in your favor.
Knowing what happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit can help you prepare and respond accordingly. This article will discuss some reasons why a car accident case may be unsuccessful and what to expect if you lose.
When you have trusted car accident attorneys on your side, your chance of losing decreases. Our law firm, for one, has over 40 years of experience in handling car accident cases. We know what it takes to win.
When you choose Hill & Moin LLP to represent your case, it’s like having “a lawyer in the family.” Call us today at (212) 668-6000 to learn more in a free case evaluation.
Do Car Accident Cases Always Go to Court?
Car accident claims are a type of personal injury case. The majority of car accident cases do not go to trial. In fact, the most recent available statistics show that up to 95 percent of all personal injury cases may be settled out of court.
Most car accident cases are settled through negotiations with the insurance company. It often costs insurance companies more money to prepare for trial and go to civil court than to reach an agreement during negotiations. Also, if you win the case, the insurer will be forced to pay you the settlement amount you requested.
Typically, car accident lawyers are skilled negotiators. We know what is needed to get maximum compensation for our clients without having to go through the time and expense of a trial.
Why Do Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?
While most motor vehicle accident cases are settled out of court, there are some situations in which your personal injury lawyer may advise you to file a lawsuit.
Typically, a car accident case may go to trial for one of these reasons:
- You and the other party cannot come to an agreement as to who is at fault
- You and the other party cannot agree on fair compensation
Even after a car accident lawsuit is filed, a settlement can still be agreed on before the case is presented to a judge. Being willing to go to court and prepare a claim for trial may be enough to pressure the insurance company into making a more serious offer.
The Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you are unable to come to a fair settlement agreement by means of out-of-court negotiations, your lawyer may suggest that you file a lawsuit. If you have never been to court or involved in a personal injury lawsuit before, you may be nervous and unsure of what to expect.
The following is a brief summary of the legal proceedings of a personal injury case, such as a car accident:
- Discovery: During this stage, your legal representative will collect evidence and interview eyewitnesses. He or she will research statutes and laws that apply to your claim and work to build a strong case.
- Negotiations: While preparing your case, your lawyer will continue to negotiate with the defendant and the insurance company to reach an out-of-court settlement.
- Trial: This stage is where your attorney will present your argument in court and provide evidence supporting your claim.
- Verdict: The last part of the lawsuit process is when a verdict is announced and you learn whether or not you have won your case.
Reasons for Losing a Car Accident Lawsuit
Each case is unique, and there are various reasons why a person may not win a car accident case. The following are some reasons a person may lose a car accident lawsuit.
Not hiring a personal injury lawyer
When accident victims try to represent themselves in the legal world, they may come to realize how difficult it is to handle a personal injury case on their own. There are documents that must be completed in a specific manner. Both plaintiffs and defendants need to meet tight deadlines.
Time and hard work are required to compile evidence to prove or defend your case and then present it in a convincing manner in court. What’s more, knowing when to accept a settlement agreement is an important part of any car accident case. It requires legal knowledge, experience, and skill to successfully negotiate a fair claim.
As the victim, the plaintiff presenting the case, compelling evidence must support your claim for compensation. Insufficient evidence could lead to the court ruling in favor of the defendant.
The following are examples of evidence often used in car accident cases:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Video surveillance or dashcam footage
- Testimony from accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, engineers, or other experts
If you are the defendant, the burden of proof is not on you. It will be up to the plaintiff to prove you were the at-fault driver. If he or she presents compelling evidence and the court rules in the plaintiff’s favor, you will be on the hook for damages.
Honesty and credibility
It is vital to be open and honest with your lawyer about the circumstances of the accident. Don’t hide information about past accidents, injuries, or anything else that could catch your attorney by surprise in court.
The judge and jury are more likely to rule in your favor if you appear credible in court.
Some ways to bolster your credibility are:
- Being polite and respectful in court
- Dressing in a dignified manner
- Cooperating with the investigation
- Answering all questions honestly
You can be the victim of a collision while also having contributed to the accident to a certain extent. The legal term for this is “contributory negligence.” This means that it is possible for multiple parties to share some degree of fault for any accident.
When you are partially to blame for the motor vehicle accident, you may recover less than the full amount of damages or be denied any compensation whatsoever.
If the other party accuses you of contributory negligence, your lawyer can work to fight back and present your side of the case so you do not lose out on your chance at compensation.
Car accident victims may be tempted to vent their frustrations on social media. However, if you are involved in a lawsuit, what you post on social media could be devastating to your case.
Social media platforms are public forums, and anything posted on them is admissible in court. For example, a post that shows you engaging in an activity that contradicts your injury claim could cause you to lose your case.
It’s also possible to unintentionally post something that gives away your attorney’s legal strategy or complicates your case.
The Consequences of Losing a Car Accident Lawsuit
What happens after you lose a car accident case depends on whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant.
As the plaintiff
The plaintiff in a car accident case is the party filing a lawsuit against the defendant in seeking damages. A plaintiff may lose his case if he played a role in the accident or was unable to provide sufficient evidence proving the defendant was at fault.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident and lost your lawsuit, you will probably not receive financial compensation to cover your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. You may be left to cover these expenses out-of-pocket.
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they do not receive payment unless they obtain a settlement for their clients. If you do receive a settlement, your lawyer takes a percentage of the amount you were awarded. This means that, if you are not awarded any money or only receive partial compensation, you will not pay outrageous legal fees.
As the defendant
The defendant in a car accident case is the party being accused of recklessness or negligence. When a defendant loses a lawsuit, that party is liable to pay the injured person money for damages. If the defendant loses, it is the insurance company that must cover the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost wages, and so on.
What happens if the defendant is uninsured or the insurance company legally rejects paying compensation? The financial burden of payment will fall solely on the defendant.
What if the defendant does not have the cash or assets to cover the costs of damages? Both parties may agree to a payment installment plan. When an agreement cannot be reached, a person or company may have property seized by law enforcement and auctioned off. Those who do not have valuable property could have a portion of their wages garnished until the debt is paid.
Losing a Car Accident Lawsuit Can Cause Financial Challenges
Regardless of which side you are on, losing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident can cause financial hardship. It may become challenging to cover the costs of rent, food, and other basic necessities.
Those who have lost a car accident case may need to:
- Apply for a loan: After losing a car accident case, you may need to take out loans to pay off your debts. Losing a lawsuit is on public record and may make it difficult to get a loan or cause creditors to charge you high-interest rates if you are approved.
- Get a second job: Even if you already work full-time, you may need to take on a second job to cover medical expenses, pay case costs, or take care of other bills.
- Make financial sacrifices: The financial toll of losing a lawsuit may force you to downsize your home, sell your vehicle, give up expensive hobbies, or make changes to your lifestyle and the way you spend your money.
- File for bankruptcy: Losing a lawsuit may cause such a financial strain that a person may be forced to file for bankruptcy. While this option does give you a chance to wipe your debts and start over financially, it could also force you to liquidate your assets and make you ineligible for future loans.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Could Help You Win Your Case
After being involved in a motor vehicle accident, you do not want to risk having to pay expenses out of pocket and being left in a difficult financial situation. Your attorney will work hard to ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire legal process.
Your car accident lawyer will take the following steps to help ensure you win your case:
- Calculate damages: An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to accurately determine the value of your car accident claim. If your damages are not properly calculated, you could end up paying for expenses out of pocket even if you win your case.
- Prove liability: The success of your lawsuit will depend on whether you can prove liability in court. Experienced personal injury lawyers know what is needed to prove their client was the victim of negligence.
- Support the case with evidence: Car accident lawsuits are only as strong as the evidence provided. Your lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation of your case and gather sufficient evidence that connects your injuries to the auto accident.
- Meet important deadlines: A lawyer’s knowledge of legal deadlines is another important reason to have a legal representative on your side. Car accident lawsuits have a statute of limitations, and an attorney can make sure everything is submitted on time.
- Litigate your case: A car accident lawyer will skillfully litigate your case in court, presenting all available evidence in a strategic and convincing manner. He or she will answer any questions you have and keep you updated on the court’s proceedings.
Let Us Help You Help With Your Car Accident Case
At Hill & Moin LLP, we do not want you to go through the stress of what happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit. When we take on a car accident case, it is because we are confident that we can win. So when you work with us, you can have peace of mind from knowing that your lawsuit is in good hands.
Our law firm has been representing accident victims for over 40 years. We have litigated and won many car accident cases for clients over the years.
Our personal injury lawyers care about the people we help. In fact, many of our clients have said that when you choose Hill & Moin LLP to represent you, it’s like having “a lawyer in the family.”
Join the family. We offer all potential clients a free consultation. Complete the contact form or call us today at (212) 668-6000 to learn more about your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ.
Don’t wonder about your rights!