Frivolous lawsuit is a loaded term, and one that insurance companies and news reporters are far too quick to throw around when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Many people are afraid to even file a personal injury lawsuit because they are afraid of it being called frivolous. But having worked many years in the personal injury field helping thousands of people, we know that most personal injury lawsuits are not frivolous, even when they lose.
What is a Frivolous Lawsuit?
You may have heard that a frivolous lawsuit is one that has no chance of winning. This is an oversimplification and has led to the mistaken belief that any lawsuit that loses can be considered frivolous.
When someone is injured, they face expensive medical bills, miss out on needed paychecks while they are recovering and unable to work, and experience pain and distress. They would not have any of these problems if they had not been injured, and they were only injured because of someone else’s negligence. So the negligent person can be held legally liable for solving these problems for the victim.
Although lawsuits can’t turn back the clock and make it so the injury never happened, they can compensate the injured person for their losses. So, a legitimate personal injury lawsuit is one that is intended to compensate the victim’s losses with money (i.e., the cost of their medical bills + the amount of pay they lost + extra money to compensate them for their pain and suffering).
Therefore, a frivolous lawsuit is one that is not intended to do that. Instead, a frivolous personal injury lawsuit is intended to “harass, delay, or embarrass” the other party by causing them frustration or ruining their reputation.
Essentially, these are lawsuits that the person filing already knows they won’t win, but they don’t care because winning isn’t the purpose of the lawsuit.
Why Frivolous Lawsuits are Less Common Than You Might Think
As we already discussed, a frivolous lawsuit is one that is not intended to win and is essentially a giant waste of everyone’s time. This includes the lawyer’s time!
Many personal injury lawyers, including those at the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they don’t get paid by the hour; they get paid a portion of the settlement. In other words, they only get paid when the case wins and a settlement is awarded. When a case is not intended to win, the lawyer won’t get paid for their time.
Would you do work for free for no reason? Most people wouldn’t, and that includes lawyers. If a lawyer takes on a case, it’s because they believe the case is winnable and not frivolous.
Why Did I Lose My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own and experienced losses (medical bills, missed paychecks, etc.), your case is likely not frivolous. But it doesn’t mean you will automatically win, either.
In personal injury lawsuits, the burden of proof lies on the injured party. If you lose your case, it means the judge or jury did not believe you had sufficient proof. The burden of proof is lower in civil court than in criminal court, but that still means you need to convince the jury that your version of what happened is more likely true than not.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove these four things:
- The other person acted negligently.
- You were injured.
- Their negligence caused your injury.
- Your injury resulted in damages (medical bills, missed paychecks, pain and suffering, etc.).
Failing to sufficiently prove any of these four things could cause you to lose your case. For example, if you were injured through someone else’s negligence, your claim would fit the first three qualifications. But if the injuries were only minor cuts and bruises that didn’t require medical treatment or cause you to miss work, you probably would fail to meet the fourth qualification and your lawsuit may not succeed.
Injured? You Gotta Get Gary.
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we know how much serious injuries can affect personal injury victims. When people come to us, they are often hesitant to file a claim because they don’t want to be seen as someone who files a frivolous lawsuit. But we know that most people who file personal injury lawsuits aren’t doing it to be petty or malicious, but instead are doing it because they were genuinely injured and need compensation to pay their bills.
If you are unsure about whether or not to file a lawsuit after an injury to yourself or someone you love, contact our firm today for a free, no obligation consultation.