Common Defenses Made in Personal Injury Lawsuits
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the defense may use a number of approaches by which to minimize their liability. An experienced lawyer is likely to be able to guide your lawsuit past these objections. This article looks at a few examples of such common defenses.
If you’ve been injured through the negligent behavior of another person, you need to know that you may be able to seek compensation for the different forms of loss that you’ve experienced. As you may expect, however, the defendants, the people at fault, are likely to do everything they can to either deny responsibility, or to admit as little financial liability as possible.
Finding an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to confront a situation in which someone is responsible for your injuries. If you’re curious about the different ways in which a lawyer may be able to help you, an introduction to common defenses used by defendants and their lawyers may be helpful.
Reducing liability by shifting blame
When someone is at fault for your injuries, they may try to prove that you, the victim, were responsible, after all. If the at-fault party can prove that the injury victim was at least half responsible for the accident, they are likely to get away without paying any compensation, at all. West Virginia, however, uses a modified comparative negligence system. This means that even if the defendant manages to place a small fraction of the blame on the victim, they are able to get away with a lower share of the liability. Attempting to place even a small part of the blame on the victim is one of the key defense approaches used.
The defense that the victim accepted the risk involved
If an injury occurs during a risky activity such as skydiving or whitewater rafting, the defendant in your case may attempt to present the defense that by voluntarily taking part in such risky activity, you accepted whatever negative outcomes were possible. Known as the assumption of risk rule, the law does recognize that people trying out risky activities are, to an extent, responsible. You may even have signed a liability waiver if you went skydiving, for example. Even with such defenses presented, however, you may be able to hold the defendant responsible if they fell short in holding up their end of the bargain, say, by neglecting to maintain their equipment properly.
The defense that you were already ill
A pre-existing health condition, if you have one, could make it harder for you to assign responsibility for your injuries to the defendant. If, for example, you suffered from moderate back pain for years, but had the pain worsen following an auto accident, the defendant may argue in court that the auto accident had nothing to do with the worsening of the back pain, and that it was all a pre-existing condition. When your lawyer approaches such a defense, they are likely to try to show that the actions of the defendant made an existing situation worse. They may be able to hold the defendant liable.
The time limitation defense
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years. For insurance carriers, the window usually only extends to a few days. A lawyer for the defendant may attempt to argue that you are past the statute of limitations.
Speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury, you give yourself the best possible chance to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, and for your loss of ability to earn.