In Colorado, as in other jurisdictions throughout the country, injured plaintiffs who pursue litigation in order to obtain compensation are likely to encounter several common defenses. Not all these defenses will necessarily be effective, and to some degree, opposing counsel may put forth an argument just to be comprehensive in their defense. When pursuing car accident litigation, however, it’s worth considering these five defenses that are most commonly seen.
Colorado is a modified comparative fault state. The defendant can therefore avoid liability if he or she can show that you are at least 50 percent at-fault for your own injuries. Even if they cannot show that you are at least 50 percent at-fault for your own injuries, the defendant may attempt to attribute some fault to you so as to minimize their damage payout.
For example, if the defendant successfully argues that you are 30 percent at-fault in a car accident lawsuit with damages totaling $100,000, then they would only be liable for the leftover 70 percent, or $70,000.
Chain of Causation Has Been Broken
Defendants may attempt to avoid liability by asserting that they are not actually the direct and proximate cause of your injuries. If the defendant can show that there is some unforeseeable intervening cause that “broke” the chain of causation — such as the presence of another vehicle that collided with you — then you will not be able to attach liability to the defendant.
Importantly, the intervening event must be unforeseeable for the defendant to succeed. In the motor vehicle context, for example, if the defendant rear-ends you into the middle of an intersection, then a subsequent side collision is foreseeable and will not act as an intervening cause that breaks the chain of causation.
Core to an injury claim is the plaintiff’s assertion that he or she has suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct. In Colorado, as is the case elsewhere, pre-existing conditions are sometimes used as an anchor for a defense argument. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition or illness that is similar in certain respects to the new injuries that you have suffered in the car accident at issue, then the defendant will attempt to manipulate the narrative in such a way that it appears that your injuries are not actually distinct and “new.”
You can overcome this defense by showing that the pre-existing conditions (with the help of expert opinion and medical records) are distinct from your new injuries. You can also still recover for “same” injuries, so long as you can show that the existing condition was significantly exacerbated as a consequence of the defendant’s conduct.
There Was No Negligence
Finally, defendants may argue that their behavior was not negligent — in other words, that their behavior did not violate the standard of care, given the circumstances. This is a core issue in car accident litigation.
Other Defendants Liable
Many defendants skirt responsibility by asserting that there are various other defendants who have not been included in the lawsuit. To avoid this issue, your attorney must conduct an extensive investigation into the facts and identify all potentially liable defendants. Experienced attorneys are well-equipped to handle this defensive posturing by opposing counsel. To effectively navigate such difficulties, make sure to consult with a seasoned Denver personal injury attorney.
Let Our Denver Personal Injury Attorney Help
Successful litigation requires that you (the plaintiff) prove that the defendant’s conduct violated the standard of care expected of a driver in the circumstances, and that this violation led to your injuries. Speak to a knowledgeable Denver personal injury attorney about your legal rights and options as soon as possible.