How to Defend Yourself Against a Personal Injury Claim

back of an ambulance at an emergency room

In 2020, over 24 million people received medical care in emergency rooms in the United States after sustaining unintentional injuries. Another 24.2 million received treatment in doctors’ offices. Some of the leading causes of unintentional injuries include falls and car accidents.

A person injured in an accident may file a personal injury suit against the at-fault party responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. Personal injury lawsuits are often valid and difficult to defend when the plaintiff’s legal counsel can establish the case with supporting documentation and identify the appropriate respondents who may have been negligent with respect to a reasonable duty of care owed to the injured plaintiff. This component of a personal injury lawsuit is often accomplished relatively easily following automobile accidents where the police have performed an investigation and listed all parties involved.

In 2020, more than 2.2 million people sustained injuries, and more than 38,000 died in car accidents. Each accident could lead to a personal injury lawsuit, and these figures don’t include injuries from other accidents, such as slips and falls, electrocution, or blows from falling objects. If you’re facing a personal injury lawsuit, you may wonder how to defend yourself against a personal injury claim. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate responsibility or win at trial. You should know the factors of personal injury cases and how a personal injury attorney can help you prepare an effective defense.

 

Table of Contents


Defending Against a Personal Injury Claim 

Several factors could mitigate your liability in a personal injury suit. The plaintiff must meet the legal burden of proof to establish grounds for the suit. Their case may fail if you can prove their allegations are invalid, you didn’t owe them a duty of care, they caused their injuries, or they failed to meet the statutes of limitations for filing a lawsuit.

 

Assertions of the Plaintiff are Invalid or Overstated

Invalid assertions can be stricken from the record in some instances when the plaintiff’s legal counsel cannot prove the claims. Some claims are filed with overstated pain-and-suffering claims as well as overly-calculated loss of future wages. The diagnosis and prognosis of medical treatment professionals can be evaluated and defended as well, many times by a second opinion from an impartial medical professional who is legally qualified to present a competing analysis. While this may not always result in a case dismissal, certain items can be eliminated. Injury claims regarding the degree of injury can require closer evaluation, which normally results in a reduced amount of financial damages available.


Respondent Did Not Owe a Duty of Care to the Plaintiff

All lawsuits will include the actual legal claims of the plaintiff, and many times the original filing fails to meet the standard of establishing a reasonable duty of care by connecting the respondent to the accident that caused the injury. This is a more common defense in premise liability personal injury claims, since automobile accidents are often better supported by documentation such as police reports and ambulance records. Premise liability cases filed against a business operator may be misdirected when a property owner is the one who is actually liable. This defense depends on the specifics of the lawsuit claims.


Plaintiff Was Responsible for Their Own Injuries

This defense falls into the category of comparative negligence, which each state uses in some manner. Some states use pure comparative negligence that allows any injured party in an accident to receive some amount of financial compensation unless they are totally at fault for the injury. This includes such instances as an intentional act or a drunk driving conviction. Most states use modified comparative negligence law that states plaintiffs are barred from any financial recovery if their comparative negligence percentage is greater than the respondent’s. The bar level is usually either 50% or 51% to deny a claim. In pure contributory negligence states, any contribution to the causation of the injury will be an effective defensive strategy. In premises liability cases, the focus is on individual reasonable assumption of risk based on the actions of the plaintiff. An example of this defense would be trespassers who are injured and lose their claims based on no authority to occupy the property. Technicalities can matter greatly, depending on the state of occurrence, and the particulars of the claim are all potential reasons for a case dismissal, or at least a reduced financial liability.


Lawsuit Was Filed Late

Many personal injury claims are the result of an injury that did not appear as serious when it first occurred. These injuries later manifested into a serious situation that required ongoing medical treatment and created a pain-and-suffering compensation situation. All states have a statute of limitations law that is assessed for each particular personal injury lawsuit. This can be an effective defense in cases that are filed at the end of the limitations time period, even when the injury was recognized at a significantly earlier time. Why the plaintiff waited until the end of the limitations time period can be an issue as well. It could indicate that the injury is not as serious as claimed. This could result in a dismissal based on being a frivolous claim.

Insurance companies are in business to turn a profit, just as any other business, and they are always willing to investigate a claim fully. It is important to understand that your insurance company may be your best friend when defending against a personal injury lawsuit. In most instances, they actually provide legal counsel for their clients because it is in the best interest of both the client and the company to look at all avenues of defense. Insurance claims adjusters and claims defense attorneys deal with personal injury claims regularly. They understand all components of a negotiation, including taking a case to a full jury trial in hopes of an acquittal by a jury that thinks the claims of the plaintiff are excessive and often erroneous. Even valid personal injury claims can result in a much better final outcome when each and every detail regarding material case facts can be addressed in court. Hiring a qualified Las Vegas or Summerlin personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure the best possible result when defending against a personal injury case.


Why are personal injury cases so lengthy?

judges gavel in a court room

Personal injury cases are time-consuming and may take months or years to resolve. First, it can take time to gather relevant evidence and establish fault. Suppose you were driving a commercial vehicle owned by your employer and failed to stop at a red light. You struck another vehicle, causing injuries.


Initially, it may seem you were at fault. Suppose your attorney subpoenas maintenance records and learns the company that owns the vehicle failed to perform crucial maintenance, despite knowing they needed to replace the brakes. These factors may reduce or eliminate your liability, and some circumstances allow you to
counter-sue for car accident damages.


These types of
car accident cases are complex and may involve negotiations with multiple insurance companies. Additionally, it may be challenging to proceed with the case while a victim’s receiving medical treatment. They may need surgery or extensive testing to establish a long-term prognosis, impacting the amount of damages sought.


Do personal injury claims usually settle before a lawsuit is filed?

Lawsuits are usually filed after an extensive negotiation concerning the specific injuries that become items of damage recovery in the formal filing. Those negotiations consist of the legal positions of each party regarding the level of negligence and degree of responsibility for each respondent. 


In
slip and fall personal injury cases, the dynamic is somewhat different, but automobile accidents regularly involve several parties who contributed to the accident in some manner and who are also attempting to recover damages. This commonly results in very complicated cases where defendants and their insurance companies attempt to lessen their level of fault and deflect responsibility to other involved parties. This is also why it is essential to have an experienced personal injury lawyer defending your legal case.


It is common for parties to settle personal injury claims out of court. There are several reasons for this. The plaintiff may be anxious to receive compensation due to financial hardship caused by their injuries. Plaintiffs may also determine that the additional compensation they may receive doesn’t justify the additional
contingency fees they’ll pay their legal team if they take the case to trial.


The defendant’s insurance company may be anxious to resolve the case without a trial if a trial could damage the company’s reputation and impact its business. Consequently, they may offer an attractive settlement to resolve the case quickly.


What should I expect during personal injury mediation?

Mediation is when all parties involved in a lawsuit meet and attempt to resolve their case by mutual agreement. This expedites the process of settling; however, mediation can be complex.

Parties involved should expect to attend mediation. Parties with legal representation will be accompanied by their lawyers.

Mediation begins with opening statements establishing the purpose of the meeting. Mediation can include joint and private discussions to address facts and concerns. This stage is typically followed by negotiation. Some parties may reach an agreement. Others may be too far apart to resolve the case. Some lawsuits could involve multiple mediation sessions, mainly if the parties are close enough in their positions to settle.


When should I get a
personal injury lawyer?

The best time to find a personal injury lawyer is when you’ve been in an accident. You don’t have to wait for the police to arrive. Contact a personal injury attorney right away to ensure you’re aware of your legal rights and to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your defense.

You can still seek legal counsel if you don’t hire a lawyer immediately. If you didn’t have representation and lost your injury case, you might be able to hire a personal injury lawyer to file an appeal


How can you find an attorney to help with your defense?

Personal injury lawyers are licensed to practice law in your state. During law school, they focus on studying personal injury law, ensuring they’re familiar with relevant cases and the legal statutes that govern personal injury lawsuits. Their specialized knowledge equips them to represent people facing personal injury lawsuits.

You can ask anyone who’s dealt with a similar lawsuit to recommend a reputable injury attorney. You can also find a lawyer by performing a web search using the following terms:

 

Car accident defense attorney near me

Defense attorney for car accident 

Bodily injury attorney near me 

Plaintiff attorneys near me

 

How can a personal injury defense lawyer help you defend yourself against a lawsuit?

personal injury defense lawyer on cell phone at a desk

Your injury lawyer ensures you understand your rights and make appropriate legal decisions from the moment you hire them. They use their legal resources and personnel to gather evidence, review relevant case law, and subpoena witnesses, preparing the best defense in your suit.

Call 702.382.0000 to speak to one of our attorneys. You’ll receive a free consultation and find out how we can protect you from a personal injury claim.

 

Sources

Accidents or Unintentional Injuries. (2022).
Lawyers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2022).
Number of road traffic-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. from 1990 to 2020. (2022).

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Adam S. Kutner

Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.