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Defenses in Negligence Actions Part I: An Overview

April 13, 2016 in Personal Injury Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

In previous posts, we have discussed components of a negligence action, when a negligence claim in warranted, and what a Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer can do to assist you following an injury. In our next mini-series, we will be examining defenses to negligence claims in order to round out our understanding of negligence actions.

Virginia follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which state that if any party did anything to contribute to their injury, that party is ineligible to recover damages. This is the most common argument—once the defense has shown proof of a plaintiff’s contributory negligence, it becomes a complete defense against the plaintiff’s negligence action against the defendant.

Another common defense against negligence actions is the plaintiff’s willing assumption of risk, either express or implied. Usually implied assumptions of risk are determined by the plaintiff’s actions, and similarly to contributory negligence, it is a complete bar from recovering damages.

why is understanding defenses important to my case?

Knowing possible defenses in personal injury cases will help you as a plaintiff put together the details for a case to present to an attorney, or it will help close holes the defendant will try to poke in your case. In Virginia, defenses in negligence actions are, as you can see, usually definitive and completely prevent the plaintiff from recovering any damages once the defense is proven. Being able to safeguard yourself and your case from these defenses must stem from knowledge of what will preclude you from recouping damages you are owed.

Both contributory negligence and assumption of risk could be present in a case. A plaintiff may have exercised care that would prevent any contributory negligence, but may have acted in such a way that caused a reasonable inference that he or she voluntarily assumed the risk of the injury that ensued. For example, if a plaintiff willingly engages in a pickup game of football, he or she understands that there is a possibility of getting injured from a tackle; the plaintiff therefore has assumed the risk of injury by playing in the game. Perhaps the plaintiff assumed no risk but failed to act with a reasonable degree of care, thereby playing a part in the accident that caused the injury he or she endured. For instance, a car could strike a person who crossed a busy street without looking both ways; if a car accident injures this plaintiff, he or she may have contributed to the injury.

Both of these scenarios result in a defense that could bar any reclamation of damages by the plaintiff engaging in these actions. Understanding these two common defenses is paramount to understanding your personal injury case, and both defenses will be discussed in detail in this mini-series.

Let us help you seek justice

Knowing the defenses in a negligence action can help you evaluate your situation and build the strongest case possible. A Charlottesville VA Personal Injury Lawyer at MartinWren, P.C. Attorneys at Law can assist you with a free consultation regarding your personal injury case.

Residents who are injured in Charlottesville, Virginia can contact the law offices of MartinWren, P.C. Our caring and experienced legal team helps injury victims and their families evaluate a personal injury in the Central VA area. Let us help you seek justice under the law.

For more information, please contact Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100.

Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. also have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.

To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

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