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What Happens If You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?


No one begins a car accident lawsuit expecting to lose. However, even in cases where you think the evidence is in your favor, the judge or jury may rule differently than you had expected. This is why it’s important to know what happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit so that you can prepare and respond accordingly.

Read on for a detailed guide on what to do — and what you can expect to happen — in the event of a lawsuit loss. Know, too, that with Schwartzapfel Lawyers on your side, your chances of losing a lawsuit drastically decrease. For a free case evaluation and so much more, contact us today either online or at 1-516-342-2200.

If You’re the Plaintiff…

The plaintiff of a car accident lawsuit is the individual filing a complaint or damages claim against the defendant. For example, suppose a negligent driver impacts another driver on a New York City roadway. The impacted driver sues the negligent driver, so the impacted driver is the plaintiff in the case.

Even though some car accidents have evidence clearly showcasing who is at fault, New York is a no-fault state. That means it’s difficult to bring a lawsuit against another driver without sufficient cause.

Significantly, to secure damages and/or compensation, a lawsuit against another driver must prove negligence beyond a reasonable doubt for the plaintiff. If your legal team is unable to provide sufficient evidence, the accused or defending party will not be required to pay compensation for medical bills, property damages, and other costs.

You Cannot File Another Lawsuit for the Same Reason

If you lose a car accident lawsuit as the plaintiff, you can’t file another lawsuit against the same defendant for the same reason. However, you can sue them for another reason.

Still, depending on the specifics of your case, your legal team may recommend against this course of action. Judges are not typically inclined to support individuals who try to overturn their rulings or decisions by filing repeated lawsuits against the defending party.

Thus, if you lose a car accident lawsuit, it is likely in your interest to consider the matter permanently closed.

You Will (Usually) Not Have To Pay Legal Fees

Many car accident lawsuit plaintiffs worry about paying for legal costs if their cases are unsuccessful. If, however, you hire knowledgeable auto accident attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers, you should know that legal costs are not a concern.

This is because Schwartzapfel Lawyers works on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t have to pay us a penny unless we first secure damages from your lawsuit. In essence, we only win if you win.

If your lawsuit is a loss, we won’t charge you anything and you don’t have to worry about adding legal fees on top of your other financial needs. While not every law firm operates on this basis, most firms worth your time do.

To learn more about the contingency fee basis, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200.

You Will Need to Find Coverage for Your Damages Elsewhere

If you lose your car accident lawsuit, you’ll need to find financial coverage for property and/or bodily damages elsewhere.

For example, if you have high medical bills because of an auto accident, you need to pay for those bills out of pocket by taking out loans or through other means. You will not be able to receive that money from the other party or their insurance company.

Because this is a distinct possibility in any auto accident lawsuit, your legal team will caution against counting on a win. Instead, you should come up with means or strategies to pay for your medical and other costs ahead of time.

That way, if you lose your car accident lawsuit, you won’t be forced to scramble to stabilize your finances. You should put money aside, stop spending as much, and heed your lawyers’ advice regarding legal fees, the time it may take to recover a settlement, and other factors.

If You’re the Defendant…

The defendant in a car accident lawsuit is the person or party being accused of negligence. For instance, if you’re involved in an auto accident and the other party blames you for the impact, they may try to sue you. If they do so, you will be the defendant in the upcoming auto accident lawsuit.

Though often difficult, it’s not impossible to file a successful auto accident lawsuit in New York State. Thus, as the defendant, you must prepare for the possibility that the plaintiff will win and that you’ll be on the hook for their damages.

Most auto accident lawsuits file claims for compensation to cover past and future medical bills, lost property, loss of income, and other damages. You should contact knowledgeable auto accident attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers right away, as the earlier you bring them onto your case, the better they can defend you and work to ensure you don’t have to pay this compensation.

Also worth noting here, however, is the possibility that even with good attorneys on your side, losses can and do happen.

You May Be Forced To Pay Compensation

If you lose a car accident lawsuit as the defendant, you could be forced to pay compensation. Alternatively, your insurance company may be forced to pay compensation for the plaintiff’s medical bills, damaged property, and other losses.

It all depends on the specifics of your case. For example, if you are uninsured, you could be on the hook to pay for out-of-pocket medical bills, damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle, lost income, and other losses. The judge will take a hard look at your financial situation and determine:

  • Whether you should pay a lump sum to cover the costs of the plaintiff.
  • Whether you should have your wages garnished to cover the losses. With wage garnishment, a percentage of each paycheck is taken until the overall debt to the plaintiff is paid.
  • Whether your property should be sold and/or auctioned to make up the difference in funds.
  • Something else.

Should you be forced to pay compensation to an accident victim, you can also settle the matter out of court or with a custom agreement that works for both of you. For instance, you may promise to pay back the loss amounts in installments each month with or without interest.

Because of this, you may wish to work with your attorneys to come to an arbitration or mediation meeting with the plaintiff if you are accused of negligence. It is often cheaper and better to settle matters out of court if you believe you have a high chance of losing an auto accident lawsuit.

You May Wish To File for Bankruptcy

Your lawyers may also recommend filing for bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to avoid court costs and other legal fees needed to defend yourself against a lawsuit. Most bankruptcy laws let you wipe out debts and start over financially. This can be a worthwhile path if you don’t have enough money to pay for a plaintiff’s damages.

This approach, however, may not be necessary. If you work with experienced car accident attorneys, they will inform the plaintiff that you don’t have the funds to pay for the damages against a person or property. In cases like this, plaintiffs are usually willing to take whatever they can afford to settle the matter that way.

Appealing a Lawsuit Decision

If you lose a car accident lawsuit, you can appeal the lawsuit decision. This requires paying to file appeal paperwork. Unfortunately, this may cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

For the appeals process, you’ll want to retain a knowledgeable attorney to represent you (as it is rarely, if ever, advantageous to represent yourself in these matters). Associated fees, like transcript and filing fees, may also weigh down your finances.

Moreover, most appeals are unsuccessful. The fact of the matter is that most judges are unwilling and/or unlikely to change their minds after making a ruling. In general, it is faster and wiser to simply accept a lawsuit decision and adjust to the consequences.

Is it Common to Lose Car Accident Lawsuits?

No. That’s because most car accident lawsuits don’t end up in court.

In fact, the vast majority of car accident lawsuits are settled “out of court” through arrangements such as arbitration and mediation, which are often less costly and time-consuming for both parties than going through the car accident lawsuit process in its entirety.

When you hire experienced car accident attorneys, they can reach out to the other side’s attorneys and/or representatives in an effort to come to an agreement that saves everyone time and money.

Worth noting, too, is that by settling out of court:

  • You often have to pay less than you would if a judge ordered you to pay all compensatory damages. The reverse is also true: As a plaintiff, you may receive less than if you win a car accident lawsuit outright, but you may receive that compensation more quickly.
  • You can avoid having your wages garnished as the defendant if you don’t have enough money to pay for a plaintiff’s damages out of pocket.

If your case does go to court, a well-qualified legal team can give you a good idea of your chances of securing victory or successfully defending yourself. If your lawyers tell you that you should avoid a lawsuit due to a lack of evidence against your opponent, you should heed their advice.

Experienced lawyers like Schwartzapfel Lawyers know what to look for, understand what type of evidence is likely to sway a judge, and can, if necessary, help you find an alternative resolution to better suit your schedule and finances.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

To ensure that your lawsuit is a success, Schwartzapfel Lawyers will do whatever it takes. With our experienced lawyers working for you, your chances of securing compensation — or refuting claims of negligence — after a car accident are much higher than otherwise. Owing to our lawyers’ extensive knowledge and in-depth experience handling car accident lawsuits like yours, we never shy away from a fight where justice is on the line.

So, please, don’t wait. Instead, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers now for a free case evaluation at 1-516-342-2200.



Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You™™

New York No-Fault Car Insurance | Nolo

contingency fee | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

Garnishment | U.S. Department of Labor

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