Estimated figures show that only 4% of total personal injury cases make it to trial. Less than half fail to convince the court. On the off chance that your personal injury case goes to trial and you lose it, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind.
Losing a personal injury claim can impact the payment of your medical bills, court costs, and other issues. You must know precisely what to do if you find yourself in such a situation.
Let’s start with the basics!
What Should You Do After an Accident?
Before discussing the effects of losing a personal injury claim, let’s take a look at the usual procedure after a personal injury event. Below are the steps you should follow.
Seek Medical Help
The first thing to do after an accident is to get medical care immediately. There’s nothing more important than your health and safety.
Even if you don’t feel like you’ve suffered any injuries, you should see a doctor because many injuries take considerable time to manifest. Plus, most jurisdictions require you to seek medical help within a specified period. Otherwise, you lose your ability to file a claim.
As far as your medical treatment costs are concerned, you don’t have to worry about paying them. Most medical professionals will usually agree to hold off on collecting payment for their services until after your case is resolved. However, you will probably be required to sign an agreement to acknowledge the debt and promise to pay it regardless of the result of your case.
Hire a Lawyer
After getting the necessary medical help, you need to hire a capable and experienced personal injury attorney. This can be a long process, but you need to find the right lawyer to minimize your chances of losing a personal injury case. Get free consultations from multiple attorneys before choosing one.
After hearing the details of your accident and injury, your attorney should advise you on whether you have a valid personal injury claim. You can avoid filing a claim that is bound to lose.
File a Personal Injury Case
We need to keep in mind that most cases get settled with the opposing party before they ever make it to the court. If you have a great lawyer, they will ensure you get fair compensation in the settlement. If the opposing party refuses to settle on a fair amount, you must then file the case with your Bay Area court.
Always go for a lawyer who is willing to go to trial. This will put pressure on the insurance company to offer you a suitable settlement. According to California Courts, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is two years. Meaning you have a maximum of 2 years after your accident to file a lawsuit against the insurance company or the opposing party. Failing to file during this period will cause you to lose your right to compensation.
Two years may sound like an extended period, but investigating an accident, negotiating settlements, and preparing case files can take a long time. It’s essential to contact your personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after an accident.
Discovery is the phase in which each side gets the chance to obtain relevant facts and information from the opposing party. This process is essential as it reduces unwanted surprises during the trial and gives each side time to prepare adequately.
Here are a few steps in the discovery process that are very important in building your case:
• Interrogatories: Both parties can send written questions to each other for information collection.
• Request for Production: One party asks the other for documents about the case.
• Request for Admissions: One party requests the other to admit to specific facts.
• Subpoena: Both parties are allowed to request information from non-litigation sources in the form of testimony or documents.
• Deposition: A court reporter reports and transcribes an out-of-court testimony upon request from either party.
• Independent medical examination: The doctor’s report will include a written assessment of your injuries and the kind of treatment you need.
Both parties get a chance to settle the case before the trial again, and most cases will settle at this stage. If no settlement is reached, the case moves to a pretrial where another final attempt is made to get both parties to settle.
The case will move to a trial if the parties do not reach an agreement in pretrial either. Here, the case is open for you and your lawyer to convince the judge and jury. If you win, you will be able to claim full compensation from the opposing party. Still, a loss can have some significant impacts.
What You Can Do After Losing a Personal Injury Claim in the Bay Area
Firstly, your attorney has the option to request a new trial. It may be possible to reach a settlement that helps pay for some or all of your medical bills, but unlikely if the jury has decided against you.
If a new trial is granted, it may be possible to point out errors in the evidence or any rulings made by the judge that could have led to the previous outcome. In case a new trial is not approved, your lawyer may appeal the decision with a higher court.
The appeals process is quite slow and will likely drag on for at least another year or more. There has to have been an error of law or an issue with the evidence for a higher court to overturn a decision in your personal injury case. An appellate court will not accept new evidence or reweigh the evidence presented in the trial. Their focus will be on the legal analysis of your case.
Other than that, you don’t have any other option after losing a personal injury claim. Let’s see what you’ll have to deal with if you lose.
Paying a Lawyer After Losing a Personal Injury Claim
Let’s start with something positive before breaking the bad news. Many personal injury lawyers will operate on a ‘No Win, No Fee,’ or contingency fee basis. This is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).
It means that part of – or often all of – your lawyer’s fees will only be payable if you win the case or get a settlement. In case you lose, you will not have to pay your lawyer anything!
This may be the only positive thing you experience after losing a personal injury claim. Read on to check out some of the problems you may have to deal with.
You Won’t Get Compensation After Losing a Personal Injury Claim.
No matter how severe your injuries are, you obviously will not get any reimbursement after losing a personal injury case. You lost because the person you are claiming compensation from was not liable for the accident or your injuries by the court. This means they don’t owe you any payment or damages in the eye of the law.
Additionally, any costs you had incurred up to now, including court fees, expert witness, or other third party costs, etc. won’t be repaid. Your attorney will also not be able to claim their expenses from the opposition.
While you may not claim anything from the oppositing party after losing a personal injury case, they have the right to claim all their legal expenses and court costs from you. This means that you will not only get any money or compensation, but you could also be handed a big legal bill that the opposing party incurred!
What about Your Medical Bills?
Medical bills are often the most substantial cost incurred in personal injury cases, so it makes sense that an injured person will be most concerned about them if they lose the case. The fact of the matter is you won’t be getting any compensation. Your medical bills are your responsibility now, and you have to pay them somehow.
You can utilize many options to pay your doctor for their services after losing a personal injury claim. If you have a health insurance provider, you may be able to file a claim to pay for damages up to the limits of your policy. This is usually not that significant for cases with severe injuries, but something is better than nothing. It may also be possible to file an auto insurance claim to help pay for costs incurred up to the policy’s limits if the accident was in a vehicle.
If you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay your doctor out of your pocket with cash or a credit card. Typically, medical providers or doctors will allow you to set up a payment plan if you don’t have the money to pay your bills straight away. If you plan to pay your medical bills in one go, we advise you to ask about any special discounts they may be willing to offer.
Protect Yourself with ATE Insurance
If a lawyer decides to represent your claim, they believe there is a good chance of success. However, they’re not all-knowing; the defendant could be deemed unaccountable by a court, and you could end up losing your case.
To protect against paying your defendant’s legal costs, your attorney may advise you to get an ‘After the Event’ insurance (an ATE policy) when it’s time for the trials to begin. However, it usually doesn’t come up since most cases settle before this.
ATE insurance policies cover all costs claimed by the opposing party and are available for purchase from your attorney at the start of legal proceedings.
You’re allowed to defer the purchase of ATE insurance until your claim goes to court, but it’s often advised against. This is because the coverage will be more expensive to purchase at this stage, and it can’t be backdated. You will still be accountable for any costs incurred by the defendant before you bought the policy.
You will only need to pay the premium of your ATE cover if you win the case or get a settlement. It will be paid for using your settlement, just like all the other fees and costs incurred.
If your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t need to pay the premium for your ATE policy. We think it can be quite a handy and safe tool that most plaintiffs should make use of.
Unfortunately, ATE coverage will not pay for your medical bills. However, it at least reduces your financial burdens if you’re unsuccessful with your personal injury claim.
Final Option: Filing for Bankruptcy
If you don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to pay your medical bills after losing a personal injury claim, some may file for bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 filing, you can release your remaining balance and liquidate assets to pay the creditors. Depending on your assets, you may be able to legally walk away from the debt and get a new financial start.
If you don’t qualify for Chapter 7, you have an alternative option in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows you to reorganize your debt and repay it in installments over a set period, usually 3 to 5 years. This is a decent option that can let you pay your doctors while also supporting yourself until you financially recover. Once the bankruptcy period ends, your medical debts may be cleared if you still have some left to pay.
If you lost your case, you may or may not have to pay medical service providers out of pocket for the medical bills you received from a personal injury accident. There are a few ways to minimize the financial impact.
That being said, losing a personal injury claim is the worst-case scenario and, frankly, extremely rare. Most cases are settled before they even reach trial.
We recommend that you speak with the expert injury San Francisco attorneys at Phoong Law Corp. You’ll receive a free case evaluation and will be advised whether your claim has a legal basis before moving forward