A major part of our job as personal injury attorneys for car accident victims is to anticipate the arguments that insurance carriers and defense lawyers are likely to make to deny the liability of their clients or reduce the amount of compensation the law says you deserve.
Understanding these defenses and showing why they have no or little merit are key factors in helping to settle your claim or allow juries to decide your car accident claim in your favor. The defenses can vary depending on how the accident occurred.
Some of the more common defenses are the following:
Blaming another defendant
Insurance adjusters will assert any viable argument they can make to deny liability. Our Vancouver and Battle Ground, Washington lawyers step-by-step review the police reports, speak directly with the police who investigated the accident, investigate the scene of the accident, question whether any nearby homes or businesses have video of the accident, question every eyewitness, and use the formal discovery process to show exactly what happened and why the defendants should be held responsible.
If more than one driver is liable, we seek compensation from all liable defendants. We also assert that you have the right to collect fully from any defendant who is liable and that it is up to the defendants who pay in full to recover compensation from other defendants.
Trying to say you’re partially at fault
Washington is a contributory negligence state. This means that if a car accident victim is partially responsible for the accident, the victim’s damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a speeding driver struck your vehicle in an intersection but you entered the intersection too early, a jury could find that the speeding driver was 75 percent liable and you were 25 percent liable. In this scenario, your damage award would be reduced by 25 percent. If your claim is worth $100,000, your award would thus be $75,000.
Our lawyers work aggressively to show that you did not contribute to the accident that injured you or that your part in the accident was minimal.
Denying the existence or severity of your injuries
Insurance companies and defense lawyers in Washington will do everything they can to minimize the severity of your injuries. One common strategy is to argue that your back pain, your head trauma, your muscle damage, or any other injury was a condition that you had before the accident. They’ll even have a defense lawyer who may assert your injury is too old to be due to the accident.
Rest assured that our personal injury lawyers in Vancouver, WA are ready for this tactic. We work with your doctors and our own network of doctors to verify that the car accident was the sole cause of your injuries.
We work with doctors who are also ready when insurance company doctors assert that your injuries aren’t that serious. Many insurance company physicians will argue that your injuries should have healed by now or that the amount of discomfort you’re in is easily manageable.
The physicians we work with are skilled at confirming your diagnosis, explaining what medical care you need and will need, and every way your injuries make your life physically and emotionally painful. These physicians are skilled at explaining all your trauma, including why your broken leg or neck pain prevents you from working, makes it difficult to sleep, prevents you from driving, and affects your ability to enjoy intimacy with your spouse.
Engaging in bad faith defenses
Many insurance companies don’t follow the rules of fair play. They litigate in bad faith. Our trial lawyers are ready for these tactics. We’re skilled at countering them. When necessary, we file bad faith claims when insurance companies use delay tactics and other unethical tactics to pressure you into taking a low settlement.
The insurance companies for the driver who caused your accident and other defendants may be committing bad faith negotiations by:
- Refusing to investigate your claim or taking an improper amount of time to investigate your claim. This tactic includes not responding to our inquiries, letters, phone calls, and emails about your claim.
- Trying to pressure you into a settlement before your injuries have healed or stabilized.
- Denying liability even when it’s clear that their client is responsible, as is the case in most rear-end collisions and head-on collisions
- Arguing that your injuries are due to a prior accident or incident when there is no justification for that argument.
- Asserting that some damages such as pain and suffering are not covered under the liability provisions of their policies.
- Many other delaying tactics and untruthful tactics.
Our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA car accident lawyers diligently request the discovery of their client and anyone else who has information about your case. We have our investigators examine the accident site, the damaged vehicles, and speak with witnesses. We seek all relevant records including the insurance policies.
When insurance companies and defense lawyers fail to follow the rules of fair negotiation, we file motions with the local courts to force them to comply. We work to move your case as quickly as possible.
At Philbrook Law Office, we are respected by insurance companies and defense lawyers for our strong record of successful settlements and jury verdicts. We are able to settle many car accidents because we do the detailed work to prepare every aspect of your case and because the legal community understands we are skilled at persuasively arguing your claim before a jury.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.