It is only fair for the individual that caused your injury to be liable for the losses incurred. However, the law gives the defendant room to avoid liability partly or entirely if they can apply certain defenses. It is common for insurance companies or defendants to form a tangible strategy in the hopes of having their case dismissed or incurring a lower settlement. Many people settle personal injury cases like medical malpractice, dog bites, slip and falls, and vehicle accidents outside of court. Still, if the insurer or defendant fights back, here are the common defenses they are likely to use.
The defendant will try their best to transfer the blame to the plaintiff. For example, if one gets injured by having their car rear-ended but was not wearing a seat belt at that time, the defendant’s attorney will argue that some injuries could have been avoided if the person wore their safety belt. Other standard contributory negligence defenses include intoxication, failure to wear safety equipment, and pedestrians running onto the rail or road without paying attention.
The rules for contributory negligence vary from state to state, so it is best to get the facts right before arguing. If you consult a reputable Seattle personal injury lawyer, you will find out that Washington’s general rules say that fault diminishes based on the extent of damages. For instance, if a court finds the defendant 80 percent at fault, the plaintiff will be entitled to just 80 percent of what would be full compensation. Additionally, the plaintiff must take sensible steps to facilitate healing and minimize further damages.
Legal doctrine stipulates that an individual assumed a particular activity’s risks due to its nature or specific behavior. This mainly applies to sports activities, and if the court uses it, the victim will not receive any compensation even if the defendant is at fault. For instance, if you broke a limb while skiing, the ski resort will not likely be liable, considering its risks and how likely the activity is to cause injuries.
The plaintiff would receive compensation if the defendant made the activity more dangerous, however. The argument is that you should have known the risks, so no one is responsible for your injuries and losses.
Defense lawyers and insurance companies use this argument to lower the plaintiff’s damages by claiming that the accident did not cause the injuries. Instead, they argue that you had the injuries at the time of the accident. Fortunately, your attorney can prove that the current accident caused the new wounds and did not aggravate old ones.
Defendants rely on physician testimonials and medical records to prove the presence of pre-existing injuries. Therefore, insurance firms and defense attorneys will request your medical records from many years before the accident and assess them carefully to find any evidence that you received medical attention for the same injury. If the plaintiff ascertains that the accident worsened or aggravated the injury, the defendant will be required to provide compensation. The plaintiff has to offer medical records indicating that the wound called for new treatment due to the accident.
Defendants may seek to nullify the plaintiff’s claim through contractual defenses. Sometimes the injured party may have signed away their right to sue for an accident without their knowledge. For example, contracts for rental equipment may state that the company is not liable for defective materials. Several states hold such releases valid; however, the plaintiff can void them under specific circumstances.
Depending on the state and case type, the time limits for pursuing personal injury claims can range from one to six years. Injuries to minors do not have a statute of limitations until the victim turns eighteen years old. So, for example, if John gets injured at the age of sixteen in a state with two-year time limits, John will have four years to file for damages caused. It is critical to file your claim early to avoid missing out altogether due to time restrictions.
Due to the complexities surrounding accidents, it is vital to seek the help of a professional. Having a personal injury attorney to advocate for your rights, navigate the various legal and procedural obstacles, and explain complicated law jargon will make the process less stressful.