Whether you are bringing a car accident injury claim or defending one, it is a good idea to get familiar with common defenses in such cases. Defenses usually fall into two categories: legal defenses and factual defenses. Legal defenses prohibit legal rule-based claims. Factual defense depends on the underlying accident specifics.
Car accident lawsuit filing deadlines: the statute of limitations
A statute of limitations bounds individuals involved in the accident to file a civil lawsuit within a specific time limit. The type of case and the jurisdiction dictate the length of the statute of limitations. That means there is no standard statute of limitations deadline. The average limitation, however, is two to three years.
The statute of limitations defense falls into the legal defense category. That means if you fail to file a lawsuit within a specific time limit, you will not be able to do it afterward. However, some exceptions to the statute of limitations may allow an individual to file a lawsuit after the time limit is over. Such exceptions mainly include the discovery of the injury or the legal incapacitation of the injured person. The general rule is if the case is filed too late, the court will not hear it.
Car Accident Liability or “Fault” Defenses
One of the most common factual defenses to a car accident injury case is a fault. The person accused of causing the car accident will try to limit their liability to damages by proving that the person at fault was the claimant. The two personal injury law rules that states use to deal with the cases in which both parties share the fault are contributory negligence and comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence falls into the category of factual defense to the liability in an injury claim case. In the states whose legal systems have adopted a version of comparative negligence rule, courts assign both parties a percentage of the fault-based on facts. On the other hand, states that have adopted the pure comparative negligence rule allow a person to bring a lawsuit and recover damages against every individual responsible for causing the accident. States that use modified comparative negligence rule bar an injured claimant from recovering damages if he or she shares 50% or more of the responsibility to cause the accident.
Another rule to discuss is contributory negligence. This rule is a crippling factual defense. According to this rule, any party that contributed to the accident in any way and caused injury to another party is barred from getting compensation.
Failure to mitigate damages
In almost all jurisdictions, the injured party must mitigate their damages. In simple words, you are bound by the law not to make your injuries worse after getting injured in a car accident. Doing so will reduce the amount of recovery you get.
It has happened in the past that car injury plaintiffs had exaggerated their injuries, failed to follow medical instructions, and engaged in activities that could worsen their injuries. All these practices, intentional or unintentional, can be detrimental to the integrity of your claim.