If you're the defendant in a personal injury case, you might be wondering how you can avoid paying damages. There are several defenses that a personal injury attorney can present in your favor. Here are some top defenses for negligence in a personal injury case.
Assumption of Risk
When someone assumes the risk of a dangerous activity but continues with the activity anyway, you may not need to pay damages for their injuries. For this defense to work, your lawyer has to prove that the plaintiff had actual knowledge about the risk involved in the dangerous activity. Assumption of risk doesn't apply to unknown dangers.
A good example is a ride that flips passengers upside-down. A person who knows what happens on the ride assumes the risks involved with going for the ride. If a person happens to sprain their neck or suffer some injury when the ride flips upside-down, the ride owner cannot be held liable for their injuries.
However, a person may not anticipate that something unexpected like a loose bolt would cause the ride to throw them in a violent manner. Therefore, if the ride malfunctions unexpectedly, the ride owner can be held liable to pay damages.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
Another defense personal injury attorneys use is comparative negligence. This defense applies when the victim of an accident is partly to blame for their own injuries. With this defense, your lawyer can reduce the amount of the damages you'll be required to pay the plaintiff. For example, if the plaintiff was 40% liable for the accident, the damages will be reduced by 40%.
For states that follow the contributory negligence system, the plaintiff may not get any damage award if they're responsible for their own injuries. In this case, the plaintiff's actions negate their ability to recover damages. Your lawyer will know when to use comparative and contributory negligence depending on the laws of your state.
The Plaintiff Was Already Hurt
The other defense personal injury lawyers use is to claim the plaintiff was already hurt. To use this defense, your lawyer must demonstrate that a plaintiff's injuries existed before the accident. Pre-existing conditions help reduce the damages you'll be asked to pay.
Your lawyer will use medical records and the testimony of doctors to prove a pre-existing condition. This is one of the reasons insurance companies and defense attorneys request medical records from the injured person. However, just because the plaintiff has a pre-existing condition doesn't mean you won't pay damages. In some cases, the plaintiff can prove that their injury was aggravated by the accident.
To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney.