A California personal injury lawsuit is a type of legal claim by a person that another person/party caused him/her to suffer mental or physical harm. Such claim often arises from intentional efforts to hurt someone, car accidents, or defects in a home or property. Defenses to these lawsuits may vary from one state to the other, and according to different circumstances. However, there are defenses that should be considered in almost every case. Below are some examples of possible defenses.
Common Personal Injury Case Defenses
1. Statute of Limitations
This is a law which requires a lawsuit to be brought within a specific period of time from when the cause of the injury claim took place. The statutes for an injury claim is usually two to four years, but this may vary depending on the exact claims made, as well as the jurisdiction in which the suit is brought. Failure to file a claim within the given statutes is an absolute bar to the case. This means that regardless of how clear the liability of the defendant is, it is barred from going forward.
2. Failure to State a Claim
Any personal injury claim includes “elements” or certain matters which need to be alleged and proven before the lawsuit can succeed. For example, all negligence matters need that the defendant owe the plaintiff some sort of “duty” to either do something or refrain from doing something, and the plaintiff failed to meet such. In a complaint, the plaintiff need to allege that the defendant failed to meet the duty. At the beginning, no evidence needs to be presented, but at least, the bare factual allegations need to be presented in the complaint so that the defendant will understand what he/she is being accused of doing. Failure to do so can be a basis for the complaint to be thrown out.
3. Plaintiff’s Negligence
In most cases, the fault for the injuries of a plaintiff is not entirely the fault of the defendant. It’s also possible that the plaintiff was at least partially to blame. For example, a defendant might have been speeding, which was the cause of the accident, however, the plaintiff may have failed to use a turn signal which contributed to the collision. In the majority of states, the jury or judge is required to assess the fault percentage. When it’s done, there can be various outcomes, depending on the given jurisdiction.
4. Failure to Mitigate Damages
Although it’s not technically a defense, the concept of mitigation can be used by a defendant to resist a claim for damages. Plaintiffs have a requirement to lessen, or mitigate the extent of the damages they suffer, to the extent possible. Thus, if a plaintiff suffers a bad cut from an accident, but fails to seek medical help, and the cut becomes infected, causing severe and expensive surgery, it can be argued that the plaintiff failed to mitigate the harm by failing to get medical help. This concept might reduce the final award to the plaintiff, negating any form of responsibility for the plaintiff to pay the bills associated with the increased damage resulting from the failure to mitigate.
There are more potential defenses to personal injury cases and claimants need to review them all with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.