Auto Accident Defenses

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Auto Accident Defenses

If you are being sued in civil court relating to a car accident, you do have several defenses available to you, even if you are at fault. Some of these defenses include:

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is an affirmative defense to a negligence lawsuit. Not every state allows a comparative negligence defense. Under comparative negligence theory, the plaintiff contributes in some way to their own injuries.

For instance, you are speeding to work on a busy road or talking on the phone while driving. A pedestrian crosses the street without looking both ways and without using the crosswalk. You hit the pedestrian. While you are at fault for hitting the pedestrian, the pedestrian was also at fault for crossing when and where he should not have crossed. The pedestrian is partially liable under comparative negligence.

Under the comparative negligence theory, the plaintiff can still sue the defendant for negligence. However, the defendant can raise comparative negligence as an affirmative defense. If proven, then the plaintiff’s own negligence will result in a reduction of his damages. For example, if the jury believes a jaywalking pedestrian is half at fault, then his damages will be reduced by 50%.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is similar to comparative negligence. Under contributory negligence, the plaintiff pedestrian is still negligence for jaywalking and is therefore partially liable. However, in the rare few states that allow contributory negligence defenses, the plaintiff is completely barred from bringing the law suit.

Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, and Alabama are the only states that allow pure contributory negligence defenses.

Was There an Injury?

In order for a plaintiff to have standing to sue for negligence in a car accident case, he must have suffered an injury. Thus one available defense is that the plaintiff has suffered no injury from the car accident.

For instance, you and the plaintiff get into a very minor fender-bender with minimal damage. You both get out of your cars after the collision to assess the situation. The plaintiff says he barely felt you hit him and that he feels perfectly fine. However, six months later, he is seeing a doctor for severe spinal stenosis. He then sues you, claiming the accident you caused led to him suffering severe back injuries that resulted in not only exorbitant medical expenses but the loss of his job as well. If you can prove the plaintiff is lying about his injury, you will not be liable for the damages he is asking for.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Auto Accident Case?

Civil lawsuits carry steep penalties with them. You may be ordered by the jury to pay medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and punitive damages. You need a skilled and accomplished personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your defenses, investigate the case, negotiate a settlement, and advocate for your side in court.

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Last Modified: 08-02-2016 09:36 PM PDT

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