Five Risks Of A Connecticut Personal Injury Trial

Here are five risks of a Connecticut personal injury trial for a plaintiff. The goal of the legal system is to produce certain and repeatable results. Two cases with similar facts should reach similar outcomes regardless of who the judge, lawyer, clerks or jury is. This is one of the most noble and basic notions in law – justice should be blind.

Five Risks of A Connecticut Personal Injury Trial
Five Risks of A Connecticut Personal Injury Trial

But the law feels anything other than predictable. Ask any lawyer worth his salt. He’ll tell you he’s lost cases he thought were slam dunks. And won cases he thought were sure losers. A case feels like a roller coaster for even the most seasoned of attorneys. One ruling, one judge, one juror, or one small fact can change everything.

So here you are. You have been injured. You have been seriously injured in a trucking wreck. You ask your friends. You do your online research. And you meet with several lawyers before deciding on the one you believe to be best suited for your case. The lawyer has results, a record, and a commitment to you. You feel like you’re in good hands.

For much of your case it’s just going along. The only offers the insurance company makes are the lowball ones that your lawyer has warned you about.

Five Risks Of A Connecticut Personal Injury Trial

You’ve been told the strengths and weaknesses of your case. And you get it. You get that nothing is certain. You know someone wronged you and you’ve been hurt. You trust in your lawyer. You know he’s working as hard as he can to win your case. But at the end of the day you know the system is human. And humans are unpredictable. You think you know one football team will beat another but then the game gets played.

Except this is no game. This is your future.

What are the risks of losing a personal injury trial?

Here are five risks of a Connecticut personal injury trial.

One Risk Of A Personal Injury Trial: Losing

If the jury comes back with a defense verdict that means you lost. Losing means you get zero dollars. Nothing. Years of angst, days off from work, meetings with your lawyer and it’s all for nothing. Even with the strongest possible case there is always some chance you lose. Recently I was speaking with a judge who said that several recent car accident cases – where the defendant stipulated to liability – came back as defense verdicts from a jury.

Losing is always a risk.

Another Risk of A Personal Injury Trial: Less Money

The ultimate goal of any plaintiff’s lawyer is to beat the last offer from the insurance company at trial. There are only two numbers that matter in a personal injury case – what a jury will award you and what an insurance company will pay you. If you go to trial and the jury awards more money than the insurance company’s last offer it is a win. If you are awarded less money by a jury than what the insurance company was offering it is a loss.

Less money is a risk of a personal injury trial.

Another Risk of A Personal Injury Trial: You Owe Your Lawyer Costs

Connecticut has two kinds of fee agreements. One is a fee waiver agreement. In which the client waives the statutory fee structure and gives the lawyer 1/3rd of the gross settlement regardless of how big that settlement is. In exchange the client gets certainty that the lawyer will not pursue the client for costs in the event of a loss. The other kind of fee agreement – a statutory fee agreement – makes the client responsible for costs in the event of a loss. Costs could include expert fees, deposition costs, court costs, and other costs as explained in your fee agreement.

Sometimes costs can be high. If you lose you may have to reimburse your lawyer. You should have this conversation at the beginning of your relationship with any lawyer and demand to be constantly updated about litigation costs and projected costs. You can read the statute regarding fee waivers in Connecticut personal injury cases here. 

Another Risk of A Personal Injury Trial: You Owe The Defendant Costs

After winning at trial a defendant can file a bill of costs. The defendant can get reimbursed costs for trial, witness fees, depositions, experts and other such costs pursuant to Connecticut Statute 52-257. Sometimes these costs can be in the thousands of dollars. Again, this is a discussion you should have with your lawyer prior to trial.

Another Risk of A Personal Injury Trial: The Defendant Sues You

In Connecticut, a prevailing party in an action may bring a lawsuit for vexatious litigation or abuse of process. Essentially the claim is that there was no probable cause for you to have brought your claim. It is a high burden for a party to meet. But such claims are on the rise nationally and in Connecticut. Even if you didn’t engage in vexatious litigation, it may cost you money to fight the claim

What You Can Do

You need to have constant conversations with your attorney about the probability of various outcomes for your case. But all plaintiffs entering a court need to know all possible outcomes. Some cases have to get tried. Some battles have to be fought.

Other times a settlement or a mediation or even an arbitration may be a preferred means of resolving your personal injury case. We love to try cases but many of our cases because we prepare for trial resolve without a trial. We share these five risks of a Connecticut personal injury trial with you so that you can be empowered with knowledge.

Ryan McKeen is an attorney at McKeen Law, LLC.