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How to Handle an Auto Accident

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What Are Some Common Causes of Car Accidents?

Many car accidents are caused by the negligence of one or more drivers. This can be due to inattention while driving, drunk driving, or other factors. Some other causes of car accidents include:

  • Poor visibility
  • Very bad weather conditions
  • Defects with the car’s mechanical systems
  • Issues with road signs or stop light failure
  • Other unpredictable factors

Are There Any Car Accident Defenses?

On the other hand, there are also accidents where one or more driver is at fault for the injuries or damage caused to another party. Even so, there can be instances where the driver is excused from liability if a legal defense applies to them. Some car accident defenses may include:

  • Lack of Proof: For instance, if one of the elements of negligence cannot be proven, or if there is not enough evidence to prove liability.
  • Lack of Fault: This defense will try to limit the defendant’s liability to pay by showing that the plaintiff was responsible for causing the accident.
  • Emergencies: Some cases result in a dropped or lowered sentence if the accident involved emergency conditions.
  • Contributory or Comparative Negligence: Some jurisdictions don’t allow a plaintiff to recover damages if they contributed to their own injury. In other areas, the damages are reduced proportionately.
  • Assumption of Risk: It can sometimes be a defense if it can be shown that the other driver knew of a certain risk and still acted in spite of the risk.
  • Involuntary Intoxication: This defense states that the defendant was intoxicated against his will and without knowledge, which led him to the auto accident.
  • Statute of Limitations Expired: This defense states that the plaintiff’s time period, which the case had to be filed within, has expired. Usually in auto accidents, the time period to file a claim is 2 years, but can go up to six years depending on the state.
  • Failure to Mitigate Damages: The defendant did not try to lessen his damages and is exaggerating their injuries. 

What Is 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 his or her own injuries.

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, and then his damages will be reduced by 50%.

What Is 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 lawsuit. The defendant has to show the plaintiff contributed to the accident. 

What Are the Damages for Car Accident Claims?

Car accident cases can sometimes result in a civil lawsuit for damages. In such cases, the liable party may be responsible for reimbursing the victim for losses including:

  • Costs associated with any injuries (hospital or physical therapy costs, etc.)
  • Damage to the car or other property
  • Lost Wages
  • Lost Earning Capacity
  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Criminal penalties can also result, especially for cases involving drunk driving.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Car Accident Defenses?

Car accident claims often involve complex legal theories and many different sets of facts. You may need to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer that can evaluate your defenses, investigate the case, negotiate a settlement, and advocate for your side in court. A personal injury lawyer lawyer can provide you with advice for your case and can also inform you of your options under state law.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-26-2017 01:46 PM PDT

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