5 Common Defenses in Car Accident Claims

Car accidents are unfortunate events that can result in injuries, property damage, and emotional distress. When filing car accident claims, insurance companies and at-fault parties may employ various defenses to dispute liability and minimize the compensation they have to pay. Understanding these common defenses can help you navigate the claims process and protect your rights as a victim. This article will discuss five common reasons for car accident claims in detail.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a common defense in car accident claims, especially in states that follow the close negligence doctrine. Under comparative negligence, the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident based on their degree of negligence. Their rate of the spot then reduces the compensation awarded to the injured party.

Car Accident Claims

For example, if you were involved in a car accident and the court determines that you were 20% at fault because you were speeding, and the other driver was 80% at fault for running a red light, your compensation would be reduced by 20%. If your total damages were $100,000, you would only be awarded $80,000.

Insurance companies may use comparative negligence as a defense to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident and should bear some responsibility for your injuries and damages. They may try to show that you were distracted while driving, failed to obey traffic laws, or were otherwise negligent in contributing to the accident. To combat this defense, it’s essential to provide evidence that supports your claim of being not at fault or minimally at fault, such as eyewitness testimonies, police reports, and traffic camera footage.

Pre-Existing Injuries

Another common defense in car accident claims is the argument that the injured party had pre-existing injuries or conditions unrelated to the accident. Insurance companies may try to claim that your injuries were not caused by accident but were pre-existing and not the responsibility of the at-fault party.

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To counter this defense, it’s essential to provide medical records and expert testimony from healthcare professionals that establish the cause of your injuries. These records can show that your injuries were directly caused by the car accident and not pre-existing conditions. It’s also crucial to disclose any pre-existing injuries or illnesses to your attorney and the insurance company from the outset to avoid any potential challenges down the road.

Lack of Causation

Insurance companies may also argue that the accident did not directly cause your injuries or damages. They may try to claim that your injuries were not a result of the accident but were caused by some other unrelated event or condition.

To counter this defense, you must provide medical evidence and expert testimony that establishes a direct link between the accident and your injuries. This may include medical records, diagnostic reports, and statements from healthcare professionals who can confirm that your injuries directly resulted from the accident.

Pre-Existing Damage to the Vehicle

Insurance companies may also claim that the damages to your vehicle were not caused by accident but rather were pre-existing. They may argue that your vehicle had prior damage or wear and tear and that the accident did not cause additional damage.

Car Accident Claims

To refute this defense, having your vehicle examined by a certified mechanic as quickly as possible after the accident is essential. The mechanic can provide a detailed report that outlines the damages and their likely cause. If possible, gather any maintenance records, photographs, or other evidence that can prove the condition of your vehicle before the accident. This evidence can help establish that the damages were caused by accident and not pre-existing.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a defense based on the time limit within which a legal claim must be filed. Insurance companies may argue that the injured party failed to file their car accident claim within the specified time limit. Therefore, the lawsuit is barred by the statute of limitations.

Each state has its statute of limitations for car accident claims, which typically ranges from one to six years from the accident date. It’s crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations in your state and ensure that you file your claim within the advised timeframe to avoid this defense.

If the insurance company raises the defense of the statute of limitations, you will need to provide evidence that your claim was filed within the allowable time limit. This may include documentation of when the accident occurred, when you discovered your injuries, and when you filed your claim with the insurance company or the court. Adhering to the law of limitations is essential to protect your right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

Intervening Cause

Another defense that insurance companies may use in car accident claims is the argument of an intervening cause. An intervening reason is a separate event or action that occurs after the accident and is claimed to have caused or contributed to the injuries or damages suffered by the injured party.

For example, the insurance company may argue that the injured party’s injuries were not solely caused by the car accident but were aggravated by a subsequent incident or the injured party’s actions, such as failure to follow the prescribed medical treatment or engaging in risky behavior.

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To counter this defense, it’s crucial to provide evidence that shows a direct link between the accident and your injuries and that any subsequent events or actions did not break the chain of causation. This may include medical records, expert testimony, and other evidence that establishes that the injuries and damages were a direct result of the car accident and not caused or aggravated by any intervening events.

Conclusion

Car accident claims can be complex, and insurance companies often employ various defenses to dispute liability and minimize the compensation they have to pay. Understanding these common defenses can help you navigate the claims process effectively and protect your rights as an injured party.

It’s essential to gather and preserve evidence that supports your claim, such as police reports, medical records, eyewitness testimonies, and other relevant documentation. Working with an experienced and skillful personal injury attorney can also be beneficial. They can provide expert legal guidance and representation to counter the defenses raised by the insurance company and help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Remember to adhere to the statute of limitations for filing your claim and disclose any pre-existing injuries or conditions to avoid challenges based on comparative negligence or lack of causation. By being proactive and prepared, you can strengthen your car accident claim and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.

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