Don’t Let Defenses in Accident Claims Reduce Your Compensation
When you’ve suffered injuries due to the negligence of someone else, there are certain facts you need to prove in court in order to obtain compensation for your losses. However, even once you establish your right to financial recovery, the defendant still has the opportunity to present his or her side of the case. If these details are sufficient to present a defense, your compensation may be reduced – or you may lose your potential recovery entirely. A Biloxi accident and personal injury lawyer can tell you more about the strengths and weaknesses of your individual case, but some general information on claims and defenses should be useful.
Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
In order to prove your case in court, you must establish the essential elements of the cause of action:
- The liable party had a duty to abide by a certain standard of care in his or her actions;
- The responsible party breached that duty of care;
- The breach of duty caused your injuries; and,
- You suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
If a defendant is successful in disproving any of these elements, this will impact your compensation. Defense attorneys use two common defenses to refute your claims and deny your recovery.
If you were negligent in causing your own injuries, the doctrine of comparative negligence may reduce your recovery. Mississippi is a “pure” comparative negligence state, which means that you are not completely barred from any financial compensation – but your award will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to your actions.
Example: Consider the case of a car accident where you were speeding five miles over the posted limit, while the other driver was texting and ran a red light. Your actions may be partly to blame for your injuries but the liable party’s actions were far more negligent. A jury may see you as being 20 percent responsible, so your compensation would be reduced to 80 percent of the total recovery amount.
Comparative Negligence may also come into play when there are multiple Defendants who may be responsible for your injuries.
Assumption of the Risk
If you engage in activity which is obviously, inherently hazardous, the defendant may argue that you assumed the risk and should not receive compensation for your injuries. For this defense to apply, you must be fully aware of the risk and accept the consequences.
Example: Many victims of sports injuries fail in making a claim because they assumed the risk when engaging in the competition. Suffering a broken bone or cuts when voluntarily playing basketball may prevent you from recovery.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Prevent Defenses from Affecting Your Claim
As you can see, your own actions may be a factor in an accident case if you don’t exercise the proper standard of case to protect yourself from injuries. The lawyer for the defendant – typically an insurance company attorney – will take advantage of every weakness in your case, impacting the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Judy Guice have represented many clients in personal injury cases, attacking any defenses the responsible party may attempt to argue. Please contact us with questions or to schedule a free consultation at our Biloxi, MS office.