What Are Common Defenses Used in Car Accidents?
In most cases, before you receive financial compensation for your car accident damages in Virginia, you will need to prove the other party’s fault and liability. You or your car accident attorney will use evidence, eyewitnesses and expert witnesses to prove the defendant’s negligence. In return, the defendant will have the chance to defend him or herself using appropriate defense strategies. Learning the most common defenses used in car accident cases in Virginia can help you prepare for what may lie ahead.
The defendant in your car accident case may try to dispute legal responsibility for the crash. Virginia uses a variation of the no-fault insurance law. It is an add-on no-fault state, meaning drivers can choose to either use fault-based insurance plans or pay extra for personal injury protection insurance. If you try to bring a fault-based lawsuit against another driver, that driver will have the opportunity to refute your claim based on lack of fault for the accident.
A liability dispute may try to assert that a third party caused your car accident instead of the other driver. If you and the other driver crashed due to a roadway defect in Richmond, for example, the city may be liable for the wreck rather than the other driver. An in-depth investigation into your car accident can help you uncover third-party liability, if applicable. Otherwise, the defendant may use Virginia’s no-fault insurance rule to argue that you must file a first-party claim rather than bring a third-party lawsuit.
Comparative Fault or Contributory Negligence
One of the most common defenses heard during a car accident case is comparative fault. Comparative fault, also called comparative negligence, refers to the injured victim’s own amount of blame for the auto accident. In a comparative fault state, a victim’s portion of responsibility for the accident will reduce his or her compensatory award accordingly. If the victim was 20% at fault, for example, the victim would recover 20% less in damages.
Virginia uses a strict contributory negligence law rather than a comparative fault law. It is one of the only states that still has a contributory negligence law in place. In Virginia, if the defendant proves that you were to blame for the car accident in any degree – even 1% – the courts will bar you from financial recovery entirely. You or your attorney must prove that the other driver was 100% at fault for the car accident to collect monetary damages in Virginia.
Failure to See a Doctor
It is important to go to a doctor or hospital in Richmond after a car accident, even if you feel fine. Delaying medical care for a crash-related injury could hurt your claim to damages. The defendant may argue that you contributed to the current severity of your injuries by failing to mitigate them with professional care. Failing to see a doctor or follow a treatment plan could be a reason for the courts to dismiss your case. The courts may agree with the defendant’s argument that you contributed to your own injuries by ignoring medical advice. Going to a hospital immediately after an auto accident in Virginia can help you avoid this type of defense.
Expired Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in Virginia is the legal time limit on a personal injury claim. You have two years from the day of your auto accident or the date you discover your injuries to bring a cause of action in Virginia, with a few exceptions. In general, if you miss your statute of limitations, the courts will refuse to hear your case outright.
Even if the courts accept your case, the defendant can use the expired statute of limitations as a defense against liability for your injuries. If the defendant proves that you filed outside of your statute of limitations, this will lead to the courts dismissing your case. Prepare your case for any defense by hiring a car accident lawyer in Richmond to represent you.