The serious nature of personal injury accidents often entitles victims to substantial compensation. Because of the high stakes, lawyers for insurance companies usually fight these claims tooth and nail, relying on the following common defenses to do so.
Missouri follows a “pure comparative fault” system. This doctrine can shift at least part of the blame for a personal injury accident from the alleged negligent party to the victim. For example, an insurance company may admit that its policyholder made an illegal turn but also argue that the victim’s excessive speed is what caused the crash. If the court finds that the defense applies, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of liability. For instance, if the court awards you $100,000, but you are found 60 percent responsible, you will only receive 40 percent of your compensation, or $40,000.
If you have a health condition that gets worse or an old injury flares up after an accident, the at-fault party’s insurer may reject your entire claim as a “pre-existing condition.” However, although they may try, insurance companies cannot deny injury claims solely on that basis. You have the legal right to be compensated for the aggravation of a pre-existing injury caused by a personal injury accident. Still, you may need a lawyer’s help to prove the causal relationship.
The defense may argue that you assumed the risk of injuries. An assumption of risk defense states that people who engage in dangerous activities can’t hold another party liable for any injuries. For example, the assumption of risk defense may be used by a driver if a pedestrian sees their oncoming car and decides to try to make it across the street anyway, although the crosswalk light is red. The defense must be able to show the plaintiff (injury victim) knew there was a risk of injury similar to the one they suffered during the activity and still, with that knowledge, chose to participate in the event voluntarily.
Businesses often make patrons sign release of liability waivers to protect them against claims and lawsuits. By signing one, you may have forfeited your right to seek compensation, but there are exceptions. If the defendant was considered grossly negligent, the liability waiver might not be enforceable, and the court may allow your case to proceed.
Missouri’s statute of limitations (Missouri Code section 516.120) is a law that designates the maximum time period in which a person can wait before filing a personal injury lawsuit against another. Generally speaking, the five-year time period starts on the date of injury or when the person should have known about the injury. So, if a claimant waits too long, the defense can state the lawsuit is time-barred and should be dismissed, as it has been filed after the statute of limitations period.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, please contact Goldblatt + Singer. Our St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer can answer your questions and go over your legal options for recovering the compensation you deserve. There is no fee for the initial consultation. Call (314) 888-1000 or message us online today.