18-Wheeler Accident Lawsuits: Typical Defense TacticsAugust 31, 2017
Following an 18-wheeler accident, victims may have a claim against the party (or parties) whose negligence contributed to the wreck. When they do have a truck accident claim, it will be up to victims to prove the nature and impacts of the involved negligence.
In other words, the burden of proof in truck wreck cases lies with the victims (i.e., the plaintiffs in these cases).
Knowing how to prove negligence – and how defendants in these cases may try to avoid or limit their liability – can be integral to the success of a truck accident claim.
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Top 9 Defense Tactics in Truck Wreck Cases
The defendants in truck accident claims can include truckers, trucking companies, shippers, trucking brokers and others. In many cases, these (or other) defendants are represented by insurance companies. For simplicity’s sake, we will only refer to “defendant” in general in the following.
The details and evidence associated with a truck accident can impact the nature of the defense arguments used by a defendant in a given claim. In general, however, the following are some common strategies that defendants in these cases may use to try to fight victims’ claims, limit liability and avoid paying victims compensation:
- Comparative fault – This tactic involves trying to blame the victim for the crash by arguing the victim was partly or mostly at fault for the accident (when compared to the defendant). In Texas, accident victims can be entitled to compensation as long as they are found to be 50 percent or less at fault. The more fault assigned to the victim, the less compensation will be awarded (with compensation being reduced in proportion to the fault finding). So, if the jury agrees with the defendant (that the victim was party or mostly at fault for the crash), less (or no) compensation may be awarded.
- Victim impairment – If there is evidence to suggest that the victim may have had alcohol or drugs (including prescription medications) in his or her system prior to the crash, the defendant can use this as leverage to argue that victim impairment was partly or primarily responsible for the wreck. This is a specific example of the comparative fault defense tactic.
- Fault of another vehicle – With this tactic, the defendant may allege that some other party (i.e., not the defendant or the plaintiff) was primarily or wholly at fault for the crash. For instance, the defendant may argue that a truck driver acted in a certain way to avoid a collision with some other unidentified vehicle. This is another blame-shifting strategy used to limit or dodge liability in truck wreck claims.
- Statute of limitations – Another tactic is to argue that the victim missed the filing deadline for the case (i.e., the statute of limitations has expired). In Texas, truck accident cases generally have to be filed within two years of the date of the accident (or the date on which the accident-related injuries are discovered or result in death). If defendants can effectively argue that the statute of limitations has expired, they can request a dismissal of the associated claim.
- Failure to mitigate damages – “Mitigating damages” refers to the plaintiff’s duty to limit the extent of his or her losses. For example, getting the proper (and not excessive) medical treatments in a timely manner can be a manner of mitigating damages (because the right treatment prevents injuries from worsening and requiring more costly care). A defendant may try to argue that a victim failed to mitigate the damages because, for instance, there was a delay in receiving medical treatment or certain treatments were allegedly “unnecessary.” If this tactic is successful, it can reduce the resulting recovery.
- Pre-existing injury or illness – In some claims, the defendant will try to argue that a given injury or medical issue pre-dated the accident. The motivation here is to allege that the defendant should not be liable for medical issues that existed prior to the wreck. Again, the main goal is to shift blame for the injuries and avoid having to pay the victim for the losses associated with those injuries.
- Dangerous road conditions – Another blame-shifting tactic, this strategy involves alleging that dangerous or risky features of the road itself were partly, primarily or wholly to blame for the crash. For instance, a defendant may argue that broken traffic signals, a lack of signage, poor lighting or some other roadway hazard was at least partially to blame for the wreck. Again, this tactic is meant to limit the financial award by shifting fault to another party (i.e., whoever is responsible for the road and its maintenance).
- Character attacks on the victim – With this tactic, the defendant will try to present the victim in a negative light in an effort to prevent the jury from seeking him or her as a “good” person. The intent is typically to diffuse or mitigate any sympathy a jury may have for the plaintiff and, consequently, try to limit the jury’s award for the plaintiff.
- Social media posts – Images and posts put up on social media can also be used against victims in truck accident cases. For instance, posts that state things like “I’m not too badly hurt” or “I’m OK” – as well as pictures of you enjoying an actively lifestyle (after the accident) – can be used by defendants to argue that you are exaggerating or faking your injuries.
A tuck accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm can help you anticipate and prepare for these and any other defense tactic(s) that may be used against your claim. That can be key to presenting the strongest possible case and finding any possible financial recovery.
Get Important Answers about Your Potential Truck Wreck Claim: Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
A truck accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm can provide you with exceptional advocacy and representation when it is time to recover from a wreck.
Call (713) 352-7975, text (281) 612-8024 or email our firm for a free consultation. We have extensive experience representing truck accident victims from across the U.S. in various types of claims. Let us put our experience, skills and insight to work building you a strong claim.