Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Potential Defenses that Might be Used Against You in a Personal Injury Case

Posted Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to be aware of the defenses that could be used against you. Here are several examples, which might or might not apply to your particular case. Always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, who will help you build an effective case.

Defense 1: The Plaintiff was Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol.

If an injured plaintiff was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred, and that intoxication was a proximate cause of the injury, and a jury finds that the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault, then the fact of intoxication is a complete defense to an action for damages. The same is true in a wrongful death lawsuit, if the person killed was under the influence at the time.

That does not mean that injured plaintiffs can never recover damages if they were under the influence. Whether this defense applies depends on their level of fault.

Defense 2: The Plaintiff was Partly to Blame for his or her Own Injury.

Washington is a comparative fault state. If you are partially at fault for your injuries then any damages awarded to you will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the jury determines that you are 20% at fault, then you can only recover 80% of the damages.

Defense 3: The Plaintiff Assumed the Risk.

“Assumption of risk” is a controversial defense and is not always applicable. In fact, Washington law’s definition of “fault” includes “unreasonable assumption of risk,” which means that certain parties cannot escape legal liability by claiming that a particular injury was not their fault because the injured person knew about the risk involved.

So, what is assumption of risk? Generally, it means that when someone voluntarily participates in an activity with known, inherent risks, that person cannot sue for injuries sustained by participating in that activity unless the injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence and not the activity itself. For example, if you break a leg while playing college football you probably can not sue the school for damages because you knew the risks involved. However, if you can prove that your injury was actually caused by the school’s negligence (like improper field maintenance), you might have a case.

Defense 4: The Plaintiff did Not File the Lawsuit Within the Statutory Time Limit.

This defense is difficult to get around. Generally, there is a three-year statute of limitations in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. Adults have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. But Washington law delays the limitations period for children. The clock does not start running until the child’s 18th birthday, which means the child has until his or her 21st birthday to file a claim.

There is an exception for medical malpractice cases where your injuries are not readily apparent. In that case, you have one year from the date the injury is discovered to file a lawsuit.

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Contact one of our personal injury attorneyspersonal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit. We will help you build an effective case and receive the compensation that you deserve.