Personal injury claims are legal disputes where the injured person suffers physical or psychological harm due to someone else's negligence or intentional actions.
These personal injury cases vary widely, from car accidents to slip and fall cases. They can result in serious injuries that significantly impact the victim's life.
When pursuing such a claim, it is crucial to understand the most common defenses that insurance companies and defense attorneys may use to challenge the plaintiff's case and minimize their liability.
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer specializing in such lawsuits can greatly increase the victim's chances of successfully navigating these defenses.
By being aware of the potential strategies, collecting thorough evidence, and building a strong case, clients can position themselves to recover fair financial compensation for their own injuries. They can eventually hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence.
What Are the Four Key Elements in a Personal Injury Claim?
A few factors typically make up a successful personal injury claim. The plaintiff must establish all four elements to demonstrate the defendant's liability for the injuries sustained:
Duty of Care
This involves establishing that the at-fault party owed a duty of reasonable care to the plaintiff. This means that the defendant had a legal obligation to act in a manner that a mentally stable person would under similar circumstances.
Drivers, for example, have a duty to drive safely and carefully on public roads. Property owners, on the other hand, have a duty to ensure a safe atmosphere for passersby.
The second element in a personal injury case requires demonstrating that the accused violated their duty of reasonable care. In other words, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's actions or lack of action fell short of the reasonable care expected.
This breach is often the result of negligence, such as careless driving, professional malpractice, or other actions that disregard public safety.
The third element involves proving that the at-fault party’s duty breach directly caused his or her injuries. This means there must be a clear link between the liable person’s actions and the harm the plaintiff suffered from. Establishing the defendant's liability becomes challenging without this causative link.
Lastly, this element centers around showing that the plaintiff experienced actual harm or damages due to the defendant's breach of duty.
These damages can take various forms, including physical injuries, hospital expenses, lost income, psychological harm, distress, and more. It's important to demonstrate that the harm suffered is substantial and has significantly impacted the plaintiff's life.
Insurance Company Attorneys Use Three Legal Defenses in Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury cases can be complex, and the defenses attorneys use will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Plaintiffs must seek the expertise of the best injury attorneys in Houston.
A skilled attorney will understand common defense strategies. They will also be able to navigate the legal process effectively, ensuring the best possible outcome for their client.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence is a defense strategy that aims to reduce the defendant's liability by asserting that the injured person shares a percentage of the blame for the unfortunate accident.
In states that follow a comparative negligence system, the injured party's financial compensation may be decreased based on their percentage of liability.
If a slip and fall case involves a plaintiff distracted while walking, the defense attorney may argue that the plaintiff's negligence partially contributed to the accident.
On the other hand, in a car accident case, the defense may argue that the injured person failed to obey traffic laws, contributing to the accident.
Another tactic often used by insurance company defense lawyers is the assertion that the plaintiff's own injuries were not caused by the defendant's negligence but rather by pre-existing conditions.
The defense may argue that the injuries existed before the incident happened and were not worsened by the defendant's actions. However, proving this defense in a personal injury lawsuit can be challenging. It often needs extensive medical evidence to support the claim.
As a result, it may involve requesting the plaintiff's lawyer(s) to find evidence of prior injuries or issues that could have contributed to the current injuries.
Assumption of Risk
In some personal injury claims, the defendant's insurance company may argue that the injured person voluntarily assumed the risks involved in the activity to recover damages.
This can be partially true if someone participates in an inherently dangerous activity such as extreme sports. The defense attorney may argue that the injured person understood and accepted the risks associated with the event. It thereby releases the defendant from liability.
Defense attorneys may then try to settle the case quickly and for a lesser amount. They might aim to avoid a lengthy and costly personal injury case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys will be able to help when personal injury settlement talks fail.
Exploring Alternative Defense Strategies Beyond Personal Injury Cases
Regarding legal proceedings, defense strategies are not confined solely to personal injury cases. While such claims often involve direct harm and negligence, there are several other situations in which lawyers use different defense strategies to protect their clients from legal liability.
While the context of an affirmative defense is commonly associated with personal injury suits, it is also valid in other legal contexts.
Such a defense involves admitting the allegations made by the plaintiff but asserting additional facts. If proven true, it would excuse the defendant from liability. Examples of affirmative defense cases include self-defense, necessity, consent, and the doctrine of comparative fault.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a crucial defense strategy in various legal matters, including contract disputes and criminal cases.
This defense asserts that the plaintiff's claim was not filed within the legally prescribed time frame, and thus, it should be dismissed. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of case and jurisdiction, emphasizing the importance of adhering to timelines in legal matters. Texas has a two-year time frame.
The concept of an unavoidable accident is valid when the defendant can demonstrate that the event in question was truly unforeseeable and beyond their control.
It implies that the incident took place due to circumstances that could not have been anticipated or prevented. Such a defense is often used in cases where accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly, absolving the defendant of negligence.
Also known as a liability waiver or exculpatory clause, such a physical contract protects parties from liability in various scenarios.
These agreements often state that the victim acknowledges and assumes certain risks associated with an activity. It thereby releases the other party from liability for the injuries that may arise. Such contracts are frequently used in recreational activities, sports events, and fitness facilities.
Act of God (Force Majeure)
The defense of an "Act of God" implies that an unforeseeable and uncontrollable natural event caused the accident, leading to the plaintiff's claim. This defense is commonly used in cases involving property damage due to extreme weather conditions, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.
Consent applies when a plaintiff knowingly and willingly participates in an activity with inherent risks. However, it does not always include written statements.
This argument maintains that the plaintiff understood the potential dangers involved and willingly accepted those risks. It thereby releases the defendant from liability for resulting damages in the personal injury case.
Lawyers might claim that the defendant's actions resulted from a sudden emergency. It, therefore, left them with no other option but to cause the plaintiff's injuries. A good example would be a husband causing a fender-bender while rushing to the hospital with a pregnant wife in labor. This argument aims to shift the blame away from the defendant's negligence.
How Can Personal Injury Lawyers Help Clients in Tricky Lawsuits?
Insurance companies often play a significant role in mounting the defense in personal injury lawsuits. Their main objective is to protect their financial interests by minimizing the amount they must pay in compensation.
Such businesses may use various tactics, such as denying liability, delaying the claims process, or offering low settlement amounts to discourage victims from pursuing their serious injury claims.
To overcome these common defenses and increase their chances of recovering fair compensation, injured plaintiffs should seek the guidance of a personal injury lawyer.
A skilled attorney can assess the case's merits, gather evidence, and develop a strong legal strategy to counter the defense's arguments to strategize how to win your personal injury claim. With a knowledgeable advocate, the injured plaintiff can navigate the complexities of the personal injury lawsuit and pursue the compensation they deserve.
In pursuing justice and fair compensation, plaintiffs and defendants must recognize the significance of a well-rounded and balanced legal system. The presence of the strategies mentioned above serves as a safeguard against untruthful claims. It ensures that lawsuits are thoroughly evaluated, evidence is properly examined, and truth is sought out.
Likewise, it highlights the importance of seeking professional legal counsel to navigate the system's complexities.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is a renowned law firm offering free consultation sessions to its clients. Stating "We Go to War for You," the professionals at the company do their best to navigate complex defense tactics and help clients recover the damages they deserve.