One key aspect of a personal injury case is the issue of fault. The burden of proving fault lies with the injured person. The common theories used are negligence and strict liability to prove fault. However, the defendant has legal defenses they can use to reduce or rid their liability. This article will discuss some legal defenses to personal injury claims.
The plaintiff may work hard to prove fault as this is what the case relies heavily on. The defendant may use a number of legal defenses reducing or getting rid of their liability totally. Some of the most common defenses are:
In the majority of personal injury cases, there is often more than one person to blame. As such, both the plaintiff and the defendant may share fault for the incident. Or there may be more than one defendant liable for the injuries and damage caused by the incident. When both the plaintiff and defendant share fault, the law requires that the defendant pay their percentage of fault. So, if the plaintiff was 30% at fault for the incident, the defendant only pays 70% of the damages. If the plaintiff’s damages amount to $10,000, then the defendant only pays $7,000.
Empty chair defense
This happens when there is more than one defendant in a case. It may be that one of the defendants settles with the plaintiff and the plaintiff goes after other defendants. The empty chair defense basically points the finger at the defendant who is not part of the case. The defense tries to shift the blame; saying the absent party is at fault for the damages. Unfortunately, there are times the defendant cannot tell the judge or jury about the settlement.
Respondeat superior – this is employer liability where an employee is injured while on the job. In such situations the employer is at fault, shifting blame from the employee to the employer.