What is a Personal Injury Defense Lawyer?
A personal injury defense lawyer represents people being sued for negligence. Personal injury is an area of the law, known as tort law, that seeks to hold people accountable and liable for negligent actions that cause harm and result in damages.
For instance, if you hit a cyclist in your car because you were distracted by your phone, you could be considered negligent for not paying attention while operating a vehicle. That cyclist could sue you for damages, like medical expenses. A personal injury defense lawyer would represent you in that lawsuit, whereas a personal injury lawyer would represent the cyclist.
What Do Personal Injury Defense Lawyers Do?
Many personal injury lawyers represent the victims seeking to sue someone they believe to be negligent for their injuries. A personal injury defense lawyer works with the person sued by the victim. They specialize in preparing defenses against accusations of negligence and liability.
They advise their clients on what actions to take in response to a lawsuit. For instance, they may suggest settling, or if they believe they have a good defense, going to court to argue the case in front of a jury.
Some personal injury defense lawyers work with and for insurance companies. If your insurance covers damages from an accident you caused, the company may want to have a lawyer defend you to avoid paying a settlement.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Defense Lawyer?
You need a personal injury defense lawyer if someone has sued you for negligence. Your insurance company may provide a lawyer, but you may want an independent attorney to represent you. The insurance legal team’s priority is the insurance company, not you.
It is particularly important to hire a lawyer if the plaintiff is seeking monetary damages that exceed your insurance policy’s limits. You may be found liable for the extra costs, so having a lawyer to defend you is a must.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Defense Lawyer?
You can choose to rely on the insurance company legal team or even go it alone in a lawsuit over a personal injury, but it is best to have someone in your corner for several reasons:
- Resources to Investigate
To defend against charges of negligence and liability, you must investigate the incident. An experienced personal injury defense lawyer has the resources available to do this effectively.
- Avoid Paying Damages
Without representation, you will likely pay damages. With a lawyer, you may be able to defend yourself adequately. Your lawyer may be able to prove either that you were not negligent, that you are not liable for the damages, or that the plaintiff carries some responsibility.
- Minimize Damages
If you are clearly negligent, your lawyer can still use their expertise and experience to benefit you. They can reduce the damages owed through negotiations or by defending you in court. If your insurance company is responsible for paying damages, your lawyer may be able to keep the damages within the limits of your coverage.
- Avoid Going to Court
Trials in court are stressful, long, and often expensive. A good personal injury defense lawyer will be able to avoid court by settling. Most defendants are willing to enter into negotiations because they would also prefer to stay out of court.
What Kind of Defense Can I Make Against Personal Injury?
To someone not trained in the law or experienced in personal injury cases, it may seem as if you have no defense. You may think it’s impossible to defend yourself in a situation in which the evidence points to your negligence. A good defense lawyer will investigate the incident and find ways to defend you:
- No duty of care. Proving negligence requires that a duty of care existed. For instance, a doctor clearly has a duty of care for their patients. If your lawyer can prove you had no duty of care for the plaintiff, you could be off the hook.
- Assumption of risk. You may be able to argue that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury because they understood the dangers of an activity they undertook.
- Comparative negligence. In many cases of personal injury, both sides share some of the blame. Your lawyer may use comparative negligence to show that the victim was also at fault. Depending on the laws in your state, this could reduce the damages you owe.
- Pre-existing injuries. During the investigation, your lawyer may find that the plaintiff was already injured at the time of the incident.
- Statute of limitations. If the plaintiff filed the lawsuit past your state’s statute of limitations, the court will likely through it out.
Hiring a Personal Injury Defense Lawyer
When looking for a lawyer to represent you, keep in mind that many firms advertising personal injury actually work with the plaintiffs. Look for an attorney or a firm that specializes in representing and defending the person being sued.
Set up interviews with a few lawyers before settling on the one you want to hire. Ask important questions that will help you choose the best lawyer for your situation:
- How many people have you defended against personal injury claims?
- What were the outcomes of those cases?
- How would you proceed with my case?
- What defense would you use for me?
- How long do you think my case will take?
- Do you have experience litigating in case we have to go to court?
Working with Your Lawyer
Working well with any lawyer means being honest with them. This can be difficult to do in cases of negligence. You may have done something wrong, and you don’t want to admit it. Your lawyer cannot use anything you tell them without your permission, and they need all the information to best help you.
It’s also important to be communicative and easy to reach. Be available to your lawyer so you can answer questions and provide any necessary paperwork. Heed their advice when making decisions about how to handle your case.
Working with a personal injury defense lawyer is essential if you have been sued. You could end up owing a lot of money, and a lawyer will know how to defend you and protect your interests.