When choosing to go ahead with a personal injury case you should always consider the consequences of losing. In this recent Supreme Court of British Columbia case, the plaintiff was found to be 100% at fault for the accident (which involved a bicycle striking a truck). The Plaintiff was assessed court costs against him:
The idea behind court costs is to compensate (usually just partially) the successful party for expenses involved with running or defending a case, including the costs of hiring a lawyer.
In the above noted case the defendant was awarded court costs up to the moment of trial and double costs for the trial itself. The courts have the discretion to award double costs when a formal offer to settle that should have been accepted is made by the successful party.
Court costs can add up quickly. As they not only include an hourly and prescribed unit based fee but also include the costs of hiring experts. Additionally,the losing party typically does not get compensated for hiring their own experts. In this case the unsuccessful plaintiff was assessed 120 units at $110 + GST/PST for the trial alone. On top of that they would have had to pay a similar amount for the work leading up to the trial. As stated in my other postings, the experts can be extremely expensive, costing $10,000 or more for a report plus their court appearance fees.
It is likely the plaintiff in this action was on the hook for $30,000 or more.
This case highlights why it is important to properly assess your odds of success prior to starting a lawsuit and at each stage of the lawsuit. Lawyers working on a contingency fee will typically provide all prospective clients with a free initial meeting and discuss your odds of success with you.