Know More About Personal Injury Defenses

Commonly Used Personal Injury Defenses

The defendant may use a variety of defenses to avoid or minimize liability for the harm suffered by the plaintiff. Some commonly used personal injury defenses  include:

  1. Contributory negligence. The defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to their own harm. The plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced or eliminated entirely if this defense is successful.
  2. Comparative negligence. This rule states that plaintiff’s recovery is decreased in proportion to their degree of fault in the accident.
  3. Assumption of risk. The defendant may argue that the plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk of injury related to the concerned activity. If successful, the said defense can prevent or reduce the claimant’s recovery.
  4. Statute of limitations. Personal injury cases have a time limit within which they must be filed, known as the statute of limitations. If the plaintiff fails to file the lawsuit within the prescribed time period, the defendant can use this defense to have the case dismissed.
  5. Pre-existing condition. The defendant may claim that the plaintiff’s injury was actually caused by a pre-existing condition, rather than the defendant’s actions. If successful, this defense can reduce or eliminate the plaintiff’s recovery.
  6. Failure to mitigate damages. The defendant may argue that the plaintiff did not take reasonable steps to minimize their damages after the accident, such as failing to seek medical attention or to follow doctor’s recommendations. This defense may result in a reduction in the plaintiff’s recovery.

These personal injury defenses available to a defendant will depend on the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction where the case is filed.

Impact of a Pre-Existing Condition in a Personal Injury Claim

Here’s how a pre-existing condition can affect a personal injury claim:

  • If the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition was worsened or triggered by the defendant’s negligent actions, the plaintiff can recover damages. In such cases, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence that worsened their condition, but not for a pre-existing condition.
  • It’s possible that a defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused or partially contributed to by the pre-existing condition. This can reduce or even eliminate the plaintiff’s recovery if successful. Thus, it’s critical to establish a clear causal connection between the defendant’s negligence and the injuries the plaintiff suffered as a result of the accident.
  • In some jurisdictions, the defendant is fully liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, even if the plaintiff has a pre-existing condition. This principle is called the “eggshell plaintiff” or “take your victim as you find them” rule. Therefore, the defendant cannot escape liability because the plaintiff’s injuries were worse than expected due to their pre-existing condition.
  • It is essential for the plaintiff to be honest and upfront about their pre-existing condition with their attorney. Withholding information can jeopardize the plaintiff’s claim and credibility. The plaintiff’s medical records will likely be reviewed during the case, and any inconsistencies or attempts to hide a pre-existing condition may be used against the plaintiff.
  • Expert testimonies from medical professionals carries significant weight in pursuing a claim in cases involving pre-existing conditions. Moreover, the expert can determine the extent to which the defendant’s negligence caused or worsened the plaintiff’s injuries, and distinguish between damages brought on by a pre-existing condition and those resulting to the defendant’s negligence.

Importance of Getting Prompt Medical Attention After an Accident

Here are some reasons why seeking immediate medical care is essential:

  • Documenting injuries. Seeking medical care immediately after an accident helps create a clear record of your injuries and their relation to the accident. Medical records, including the initial examination, diagnosis, and treatment plan, serve as crucial evidence in a personal injury claim.
  • Establishing causation. Prompt medical attention helps establish a causal link between the accident and your injuries. If you delay seeking medical care, the defendant may argue that your injuries were caused by something other than the accident or that your injuries are less severe than claimed.
  • Complying with legal requirements. In some jurisdictions, failing to seek prompt medical attention may affect your ability to recover damages. For example, some insurance policies may require you to see a doctor within a specified time frame following an accident to be eligible for coverage.
  • Mitigating damages. In personal injury cases, plaintiffs have a duty to mitigate their damages, meaning they must take reasonable steps to minimize the harm resulting from the accident. Seeking prompt medical attention demonstrates that you have fulfilled this duty, whereas delaying treatment may be used against you in court to argue that you failed to mitigate your damages.

Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer in Arizona

To find a personal injury lawyer in Arizona, consider following these steps:

  1. Referrals. Start by asking friends, family, or colleagues for referrals. They or their networks may be a good source of recommendations. 
  2. Local bar association. Call the State Bar of Arizona or your local bar association for a recommendation. They have a list of reputable personal injury attorneys in your area.
  3. Online directories and reviews. Browse online legal directories to find personal injury lawyers in Arizona. These websites often include profiles, contact information, and client reviews.
  4. Specialty organizations. Look up members of organizations like the Arizona Association for Justice or the American Association for Justice. Membership in such organizations demonstrates a commitment to staying abreast of developments in personal injury legislation.
  5. Schedule consultations. Reach out to several personal injury attorneys within your area to schedule case reviews. Free consultations are a great start in discussing the details of your case and determining whether they can assist you.

What To Ask During Your First Consultation

During your consultation, consider asking the following questions:

  • How long have you been a personal injury lawyer in Arizona?
  • Have you dealt with cases similar to mine? What were the results?
  • How do you typically handle personal injury cases (e.g., negotiation, litigation)?
  • What is your lawyer’s fee structure? Are you working on a contingency fee arrangement?
  • How long do you think my case will take?
  • How often can I expect to hear from you throughout the case?
  • How do you deal against common personal injury defenses?

Before hiring a personal injury attorney, check with the State Bar of Arizona to verify their credentials, such as their license status and any disciplinary actions. It pays to take some time and research in finding the right one for you. Lastly, remember that choosing the right attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.