What You Need To Know When Facing A Personal Injury Lawsuit

Posted on: 16 October 2015

Personal injury lawsuits happen all the time for many reasons. It is perhaps only a matter of time before you can expect to become the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. Whether the plaintiff is telling the truth or not, you will have to defend yourself in a court of law. You should know what to expect when being sued, including how much you might have to pay out to plaintiff. 

Plaintiff's Role In The Accident

Perhaps the single most common claim you will hear on behalf of the defense is some variation of the plaintiff's fault or role in the accident. This, in fact, is usually the first claim made by the defense attorney on behalf of the defense.

Numerous personal injury lawsuits end with the plaintiff being recognized at least partially to blame for the accident, and as such, the damages that he or she will receive are much less grandiose than what the plaintiff was seeking.

If this is recognized by both parties, it is usually within both parties' interests to settle out of court in order to avoid a potentially lengthy legal battle and rising court fees. The degree to which damages can be received by the plaintiff if they are found to have a role in the accident itself depend on what sort of compensatory program that the state has in place for such issues. There are 2 types of compensatory programs in place to account for a plaintiff's role in the accident. The first of these is comparative negligence, while the second set into place is contributory negligence.

Comparative Negligence

Most states operate under the rubric of comparative negligence. This is to say they look at who causes what aspects of the accidents and then decide on a percentage value for the accident. This is to say that plaintiff might be responsible for 25% of damages, or rather, is 25% at fault. This will deem that the defendant is 75% at fault. This means that the defendant will have to pay 75% of the damages in question. So, if the damages that the plaintiff was seeking were $20,000, then the defendant will wind up having to pay $15,000. A plaintiff can, of course, only recover damages if he or she is 50% at fault or under.

Contributory Negligence

Far less common are states that operate under the rubric of contributory negligence. Comparative negligence operates by allowing the plaintiff to receive some degree of compensation, so long as they were not primarily at fault for the personal injury that they themselves received.

States operating under the rubric of contributory negligence are far less forgiving to those plaintiffs. If a plaintiff is considered at fault in the personal injury of themselves in any way, then the court brooks no difference, and the plaintiff is awarded no damages whatsoever. This means that even if you are considered only 5% at fault, you will not reap the rewards of receiving any of the damages owed to you by the defendant.

As said, contributory negligence is a far less common phenomenon in state courts than comparative negligence. At the time of this writing, only 5 places in the US, Alabama, The District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, adhere to pure contributory negligence laws.

Personal injury lawsuits are quite common in the world today, and, as such, you should be prepared to hear about the sort of defenses that you should prepare against such litigation, even if you believe that you will never fall prey to them. In the world of law, it is best to adhere to an old adage, though: never consider yourself an exception to the rule. Contact a local personal injury attorney for more advice and information. 


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