What Happens If You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

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Legally reviewed by Alex Uriarte on December 1, 2022 Alex Uriarte is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

Most car accidents are resolved with a settlement — an agreement between the involved parties that puts an end to the dispute and dismisses any legal matters. If a settlement isn’t reached, though, the case can go to court and be decided by a judge or jury.

Insurance companies have many tactics they use to intimidate claimants into settling quickly and cheaply, and one is the implied threat that your case isn’t going to hold up in court. Insurance companies might try to assert this to convince you to accept their settlement offer.

Well, there is some good news: talking with an attorney is an easy way to get a professional opinion about your case, and they’ll be brutally honest about whether or not they think you are entitled to compensation. 

A personal injury attorney most often works on a contingency fee basis, which is a prearranged percentage of the final award that they will take as payment. This means that attorneys are motivated to only take cases they think have a high probability of winning, and even then, they will nearly always focus on reaching a settlement before thinking about taking your case to court. But if your case does end up in court, there’s a chance you can lose. In that event, a lawyer can guide you on what comes next.

When Does It Make Sense to File a Lawsuit?

There is no real way to know how many personal injury cases are settled — either before or after a lawsuit is filed — because, by their nature, settlements are not required to be disclosed. However, there are some estimates that upwards of 95% of all personal injury cases are settled before trial, with around 50% of them settled before a complaint is filed in court.

When you are working with a personal injury attorney, they can work to reach a settlement agreement before thinking about a lawsuit. Keeping things between the two parties is beneficial for a number of reasons — it keeps the information about the case private, you aren’t beholden to the court’s schedules, and you won’t be relinquishing control to a judge or jury.

Personal injury lawyers don’t like to take cases they don’t think they can win, and they especially don’t like filing lawsuits they don’t think they can win. Remember, if they don’t win your case, they don’t get paid, which means they are on the hook for your legal fees in addition to all of the work they did for nothing.

Let’s say, though, that the lawyer you are working with does think your case is strong enough to file a lawsuit, but you lose. Then what?

You Lost Your Personal Injury Case: What Happens?

It is obviously a difficult pill to swallow, but you have to accept it — you lost your personal injury case. This means that the court found — for one reason or another — that there was not enough evidence presented to prove that the other party was at fault and responsible for any damages or injuries you sustained.

In many cases, the court may order the losing party to pay legal costs associated with the case, including attorney’s fees — yours or those of the other party. In addition to these fees, you may be responsible for any medical expenses incurred by you that weren’t already covered by your insurance provider, plus other costs related to your injury, such as lost wages and rehabilitation costs.

However, in many states, you have the right to file an appeal. Actually, both the defendant and claimant can appeal the court’s decision. This is in no way a guarantee that things will change and suddenly go your way.

But the good news is that you won’t owe your attorney a dime. Contingency fees are meant to ensure that anyone with a case has access to an attorney without worrying about the financial cost. You don’t have to worry about having to pay the attorney at all — it’s their loss.

No matter which way your case goes, though, it is important that you speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case, how it should be handled, and what kind of resolution you can expect. 

1-800-Injured makes it simple to connect with a car accident lawyer in your area for a consultation, which gives you more time to stay focused on your recovery without the added stress of searching for an attorney.

Paying Damages If You Are Found Liable

When two cars collide, it is not always clear who is at fault. In some cases, both parties may share the blame for the accident. In others, one party may be clearly responsible. If you are involved in a car accident and the other party files a lawsuit against you, the outcome of the case will determine who is responsible for paying damages.

If you lose your car accident lawsuit and are found liable for damages, then you may need to pay compensatory damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be held liable for punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for particularly reckless or egregious behavior and may include an additional amount on top of compensatory damages.

1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service that connects personal injury victims with legal representation for their cases.

Types of Personal Injury Damages

If you’ve been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. These damages can include reimbursement for medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.

The flip side is that, if the matter of liability is unresolved, the courts may find you liable, and therefore determine that you are responsible for paying these damages to the victims. Again, an attorney is usually confident you have a strong case before they file a lawsuit, so this is a worst-case scenario.

Speak with an Attorney As Soon As Possible

If you believe you have a case, the best first step is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your claim and advise you of your legal options.

An attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law and can represent you in court if necessary. An experienced attorney will also be familiar with the insurance claims process and can help you get the compensation you deserve. In addition, an attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the other driver, and can even file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. Don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Contact an experienced attorney today.