Common Insurance Company Defenses In Personal Injury Claims
Every year, insurance companies collect over $1 trillion in premiums alone. So, they have almost unlimited resources with which to fight car crash, dog bite, fall, and other injury claims. Typically, insurance company lawyers use one or more of the defenses discussed below to fight injury claims. Therefore, an attorney must be prepared to refute these defenses in court.
If a Tampa personal injury lawyer is able to rebut insurance company defenses and prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not, the compensation could be substantial. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some extreme cases.
Assumption of the Risk
This defense, which often comes up in dog bite, fall, and swimming pool drowning claims, often involves a warning sign, like “Beware of Dog” or “Caution: Wet Floor.” Contrary to popular myth, signs don’t torpedo damage claims. The insurance company must still prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and understood the sign’s meaning.
Especially if the victim had limited English proficiency, a common trait among many people in Florida, one or more of these elements could be difficult to prove.
Alternatively, assumption of the risk could hinge on a liability waiver. Once again, waivers don’t derail injury claims. Frequently, victims don’t voluntarily sign these waivers. Instead, a company dictates the terms and forces the victim to sign.
Sudden Emergency/Last Clear Chance
We’ll lump these two common car crash defenses together because they are similar in many ways.
Sudden emergency often applies in pedestrian accidents. Tortfeasors (negligent actors) aren’t responsible for damages if they reasonably react to a sudden emergency. A jaywalking pedestrian is unusual, but it’s not a “sudden emergency” in this context. Instead, a jaywalking pedestrian is an everyday hazard, like a large pothole, which drivers have a duty of care to avoid.
Last clear chance sometimes applies in head-on wrecks. If Driver A crosses the centerline and Driver B has a reasonable opportunity to avoid the wreck, Driver B is legally responsible for damages, although Driver A was on the wrong side of the road.
There’s a difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Frequently, if a driver suddenly and unexpectedly crosses the centerline, there’s nothing the other driver can do to avoid the wreck. It all happens too fast.
Contributory negligence is common in all kinds of negligence cases. Basically, this legal doctrine shifts responsibility from one party to the other.
Assume Michelle is speeding when she collides with Monica, who changed lanes without looking. Or, assume Michelle was playing on her phone when she slipped and fell on a wet floor in Monica’s store. In both cases, Michelle and Monica might partially be at fault. In such situations, jurors must divide responsibility on a percentage basis.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, even if the victim is 99 percent responsible for an injury, a Tampa personal injury lawyer can still obtain a proportionate amount of damages.
Contact a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. Home, after-hours, virtual, and hospital visits are available.