If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is common to take legal action in order to receive compensation for your medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering. If you are considering whether to file a lawsuit, it is important to at least become familiar with some of the common defenses in motorcycle accident cases. That way, you can prepare for them. This is equally important, even in situations where a lawsuit is not filed. Defenses are still important in negotiating settlement with an insurance carrier.
Categories of defenses in motorcycle accident cases
There are basically two categories of defenses that most often arise in motorcycle accident cases: those based on the facts and those based on the law. Factual defenses can only be based on the specific factual circumstances of each case, and often include the failure to mitigate damages and contributory or comparative negligence. On the other hand, legal defenses can bar a claim, based on some law or regulation.
Statute of Limitations Defenses in Motorcycle Accident Cases
The most common defense in motorcycle accident cases, as well as many other types of personal injury claims, is the statute of limitations. The “statute of limitations” refers to the deadline or time limit imposed on bringing a legal claim. This time limit is different depending on the state law that applies.
A statute of limitations restriction the time frame within which a motorcycle accident case may be filed. The allowed amount of time varies depending on the state. The statute of limitations in Arkansas for personal injury claims, including auto accidents, is three (3) years from the date the injury was sustained. In Missouri, the time limit for bringing a personal injury claim is five (5) years.
Liability Defenses in Motorcycle Accident Cases
The most common factual defenses in motorcycle accident cases involve proving who is at fault. It is very common for a defendant to try to prove the plaintiff played a role in causing the accident. This is where the concept of comparative negligence comes in. In a state that follows the comparative negligence doctrine, each party is assigned a certain percentage of responsibility for the accident. Missouri follows a pure comparative fault system, and Arkansas follows the more common modified Comparative Fault system. With that system, if the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence reaches a certain threshold, then the plaintiff’s recovery will be completely barred.
The Failure to Mitigate Damages
Under the law, an injured party maintains the responsibility to mitigate damages which means that, if anything is done to make the injury worse, the amount of potential recovery may be reduced. For instance, if the injured party is ordered by his doctor to avoid certain activities following a motorcycle accident and those instructions are not followed and the injuries worsen, the amount of recoverable damages will be reduced.
If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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