How to Defend Against a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Liability in a personal injury case isn’t always clear-cut. Sometimes, those of us who feel like victims can end up being sued ourselves.
Every case is different, but there are some common themes to defending a personal injury lawsuit. Here are a few:
Defenses to Negligence Claims
Most personal injury lawsuits are based on negligence. Most defenses to negligence lawsuits are based on the elements of the claim itself:
- Duty: You could claim you didn't owe the plaintiff a duty of care.
- Breach: You could prove you performed any duty you did owe the plaintiff.
- Cause: You could claim that your breach wasn't the cause of the plaintiff's injuries.
- Damage: You could dispute that the plaintiff suffered any damages.
In certain cases, you could say the defendant assumed the risk of their behavior, and therefore should be responsible for his or her own injuries.
Defenses to Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases make up a large amount of injury claims and are constantly the topic of reform discussions. Striking a balance between a doctor's interests and a patient's interests is the subject of some restrictions on malpractice lawsuits as well as the defense to medical malpractice claims. As modified negligence claims, some of the same defenses apply, but there are some that are unique to the liability of medical professionals:
- Respectable Minority Principle: If a doctor's decision is outside of the medical mainstream, it may nevertheless be immune from a lawsuit if a respectable minority of medical professionals support the treatment.
- Statute of Limitations: Medical malpractice claims often have stricter time limits in which to bring a case.
- Good Samaritan Laws: Many states have laws limiting the liability of those trying to help others.
Contributory and Comparative Negligence
In many injury cases, there wasn't just one person acting negligently. Comparative and contributory negligence are ways to apportion liability to two or more negligent parties. In states that have comparative negligence laws, a person's recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. In states that retained classic contributory negligence standards, a person may not sue at all if his or her own negligence contributed to the accident.
Your best defense against a personal injury lawsuit is an experienced personal injury attorney. You can contact one near you today.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- 5 Things a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Injured)
- Can You Be Negligent and Still Win an Injury Case? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Defenses to Libel and Slander (FindLaw)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.