Common Defenses in Car Accident Claims

Bringing a successful car accident claim involves a number of factors. From establishing negligence on the part of the defendant to proving damages, securing the compensation you deserve can be challenging. In addition to these challenges, defendants may use a number of defense strategies to avoid or limit their liability.

If you are considering filing a car accident claim it is important for you and your car accident lawyer to be aware of the potential defenses that the other side could level. In this article, we will explore some of the typical defenses used in car accident claims to help you prepare a strong case.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a common defense used in car accident cases. In states where comparative negligence applies, the defendant can argue that the plaintiff's own negligence contributed to the accident and resulting injuries and should be taken into account when determining liability and damages.

If successful, the court will assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff based on their actions. This may include actions such as speeding, running a red light, distracted driving, and any other actions that contributed to the accident. Any compensation the plaintiff is owed is then reduced by their assigned percentage of fault.

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal defense that prescribes the time limit in which a claim must be filed. These time limits vary from state to state but are usually two years from when the accident took place. If you file your claim after the statute of limitation expires, your claim will be time-barred.

Assumption of Risk

The defense of the assumption of risk implies that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the known risks associated with a certain activity, such as participating in a high-speed race or engaging in an extreme sport. In the context of car accidents, defendants may argue that the plaintiff willingly accepted the risks inherent in driving, including the possibility of collisions, and therefore should bear some responsibility for their injuries or damages.

Failure to Mitigate Damages

The defendant may argue that the plaintiff failed to take necessary measures to mitigate their damages, thereby reducing their liability and their obligation to pay compensation. For instance, they might claim that the plaintiff failed to promptly seek medical attention which exacerbated their injuries, or to follow the advice of their doctor regarding their injuries. This defense, known as failure to mitigate, is an affirmative defense, where the defendant accepts responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries but argues that the damages should be reduced or limited due to their failure to reasonably mitigate the harm suffered.

Sudden Medical Emergency

Defendants may claim that a sudden medical emergency, such as a heart attack or loss of consciousness, caused them to lose control of their vehicle and subsequently collide with the plaintiff. To assert this defense successfully, the defendant must demonstrate that the medical emergency was unforeseeable and genuinely beyond their control. This defense can absolve the defendant of liability if the court determines that their actions were a direct result of the sudden medical condition.

Being aware of potential defenses to your claim can help you and your lawyer devise strategies to successfully counter them. 

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Posted - 08/08/2023