What happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit depends on what side you are on in the suit. If you are the plaintiff—that is, the person who started the lawsuit—losing the case means you will not get what you are asking for, which is usually compensation from the party who caused the accident.
If you are the liable party—or the defendant—in this situation, losing the case means your insurance company must pay whatever compensation the jury decides is fair. In addition, the insurer may raise your rates because of the loss.
How You Could Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit
As the victim of someone else’s negligence—e.g., speeding, distracted driving, or drunk driving—you have the right to sue that party for financial compensation for any injuries they caused. You can also hire a car accident attorney to fight the case on your behalf.
Going to court over a car accident involves many discrete steps. Unfortunately, these steps require a great deal of effort and time. Because of this, there are many ways that you could potentially lose a lawsuit, including:
- If you fail to convince the jury that the liable party caused or was involved in the car accident
- If you fail to convince the jury that your injuries are a direct result of the car accident and, therefore, the liable party’s fault
- If you cannot refute the defense’s counterarguments regarding your culpability, the liable party’s lack of culpability, or the severity of your injuries
- If the judge dismisses your case on technical grounds because you missed a deadline, such as the statute of limitations in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, or you did not submit necessary paperwork in the prescribed manner
In each scenario, a judge or jury would deny the compensation you sought. As a result, any bills accrued due to the accident would have to be paid through your insurance or out of pocket. However, if your lawyer charges a contingency fee, you would not have to pay them, as they only receive an attorney’s fee if their client wins their case.
Additionally, once you lose a lawsuit, the case is closed. Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, you do not get another chance to seek compensation.
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Partial Victories in Car Accident Lawsuits
Even if the jury rules against you, you could still walk away with a jury award, although it would be smaller than what you asked. In Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33 allows plaintiffs to collect a reduced amount of compensation even if:
- You are partly to blame for the circumstances that led up to the accident, e.g., you were speeding.
- Your negligence contributed to your injuries, e.g., you were not wearing your seatbelt properly.
- The jury decides that only some of the injuries you want compensation for are connected to the accident, e.g., you did not submit sufficient evidence to link your back pain to the car accident.
While better than a loss, these partial victories can still leave you feeling disappointed. You would get some compensation, but it would not be enough to cover the full extent of your physical and financial losses. Any remaining expenses would be your responsibility.
Avoiding Loss in a Car Accident Lawsuit
You can take several steps to preserve your rights following a car accident and make it easier to build a solid legal case. These include:
- Staying on the scene long enough to take pictures, get the other driver’s contact information, and answer the responding police officer’s questions
- Getting prompt medical attention following the accident
- Avoiding making any unnecessary statements to reporters, witnesses, or anyone else
- Speaking to an attorney about your rights
- Hiring an attorney to build your case and argue for compensation
While nothing you (or anyone else) do will guarantee success, following the above steps and working closely with your lawyer can empower you during a difficult time. A law firm can strengthen your case by:
- Collecting evidence from the police, your doctor, other experts, eyewitnesses, and the liable party
- Submitting all evidence to the court in a timely manner and keeping with legal regulations
- Submitting other paperwork as necessary, such as legal briefs
- Helping to select the individuals who will sit on the jury and decide your case
- Presenting your case to the jury in a way they might find persuasive
- Answering whatever questions you have about your rights, the court case, and what you can expect to happen
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We Can Fight Your Car Accident Lawsuit
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers does not want any Georgia car accident victim to have to find out what happens if you lose a lawsuit. We welcome all prospective clients to call our office anytime to learn more about their rights.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review. We are eager to help you in any way we can.