In Texas, you have a right to collect compensation when another party causes you to experience an injury. However, proving that you are eligible for a payout is more than just a matter of filing paperwork. You can expect the defendant to fight back, often with the help of an attorney supplied by their insurance company. Having your own personal injury attorney in Houston, TX can help you prepare to go up against the defense.
What Are Some Common Defenses in a Personal Injury Case?
The Statute of Limitations Has Expired
Filing your claim within the statute of limitations is one of the most basic requirements that you, the plaintiff, must observe. The statute of limitations is the timeframe in which your claim is valid. After the statute of limitations has expired, you can no longer sue the person who harmed you.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years. Extensions are sometimes available to minors and people whose injuries remained undiscoverable for a period of time. By speaking with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, you can avoid letting the statute of limitations expire.
You Were Partially at Fault
A common defense strategy is to argue that the plaintiff shared responsibility for the accident. Texas personal injury law recognizes a concept known as comparative fault. Accordingly, a plaintiff who is found partially responsible for an accident can only collect damages equal to the percentage of blame assigned to the defendant. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible, they can no longer collect damages.
Comparative fault issues often come up in car accident cases. For example, one driver may have been texting while the other ran a stop sign. Demonstrating comparative fault is a way for the defendant to either reduce their liability or eliminate their obligation to provide a payout entirely. Your personal injury lawyer’s job is to deflect as much of the blame away from you as possible, ideally showing that the defense can be held fully responsible for the accident.
There Was No Duty of Care
An important aspect of winning a personal injury case is the ability to demonstrate that the defendant owed you a duty of care. The term “duty of care” refers to a person’s obligation to take reasonable measures to keep others safe.
For example, doctors must protect their patients’ health by sterilizing the instruments needed for a surgery. Similarly, on a construction site, the employer is responsible for preventing falling objects. When you go up against the defense, don’t be surprised if they argue that no duty of care was violated prior to your accident.
You Had a Preexisting Condition
If the defense can prove that the injury in question resulted from some event that predated the accident, they can avoid liability. A preexisting condition can be any kind of health issue that predates the accident. If you have a preexisting condition in the same part of your body that was affected by the accident, countering the defense’s claims can be especially difficult.
While overcoming arguments pertaining to preexisting conditions can be tricky, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to distinguish between the damage done during your accident and the health issues you had before. In many cases, your medical records can indicate that your preexisting condition had stabilized or was affecting another part of your body when the accident occured. You have the right to claim compensation for any new injuries as well as any aggravation to a preexisting condition.
Your Actions Constituted an Assumption of Risk
In some activities, especially sports and fitness classes, you legally assume a risk of injury by choosing to participate. In that case, the defense might argue that you partook in the activity or enlisted the defendant’s services with the full understanding that you might become injured. You may have even been required to sign a waiver of liability, which would provide the defense with additional grounds to argue against your eligibility for compensation.
The Case Lacks a Causal Link Between the Defendant’s Negligent Actions and Your Injury
Proving that the defendant acted negligently is not enough to win a personal injury case. You must be able to demonstrate that their negligent actions led directly to your injury. For example, a homeowner who failed to clean up a spill on the floor would not be liable unless someone visiting the premises slipped and suffered an injury.
In an effort to show a that there was no causal link between the defendant’s actions and your injury, the defense might try to find a superseding cause. The term “superseding cause” refers to any other event that could be found responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In a car accident case, the defense might try to argue that your injuries were caused by a faulty vehicle part as opposed to the defendant’s negligent driving.
How to Build a Strong Case Against the Defense
If reading about the available defense strategies makes you nervous, we would like to remind you that any qualified personal injury lawyer has encountered similar arguments time and time again. The right lawyer for your case will not be phased by common defense tactics. Together, you and your lawyer will focus on taking measures to strengthen your claims while undermining the defense’s credibility. Here are some of the most effective ways to build a case for compensation:
Provide Documentation of the Accident
Demonstrating that the defendant owed you a duty of care while showing a causal link between their actions and your injury can be done by providing evidence of how the accident happened. Sources of evidence could include:
- Video footage
- Photos of the accident or the aftermath
- Witness statements
- Physical objects
- A police report
Demonstrate Your Losses
The compensation you can receive is dependent on and proportionate to your specific losses. Specific losses could include medical bills, missed income, physical pain, and/or emotional suffering. Records from the hospital, paystubs, previous tax returns, and doctors’ notes can all strengthen your case. Since every accident is different, your lawyer will provide you with detailed information on how to demonstrate your losses, specifically.
Work With an Attorney Who Is a Skilled Negotiator
Most personal injury cases end in a settlement that is negotiated between the plaintiff and the defendant. The insurance company may even give you a settlement offer early in the process. Your attorney’s ability to negotiate with clear arguments and convincing statements will have a major impact on the amount of compensation you walk away with. Additionally, your attorney must be willing and able to litigate if your case goes to trial.
How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, TX
Our firm offers free consultations to individuals who are getting ready to seek compensation for injuries they have sustained. We are available to discuss the specifics of your accident, reviewing both some possible defense tactics and the kinds of arguments you can present. You can schedule an appointment by calling 713-597-2401.
While there are multiple sides to every story, our lawyers will work to make sure your arguments prevail over the defense’s claims. To reach a personal injury attorney in Houston, TX, contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC.