Many personal injury cases are settled without a lawsuit being filed. Even when a case is brought to court, the parties may negotiate a settlement before the case goes to trial. If your Lakewood personal injury lawyer files a lawsuit, it is helpful to understand the difference between plaintiff and defendant.

Who Is the Defendant in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Lakewood, CO?

Who Is the Defendant in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Lakewood, CO?

The injured party filing the lawsuit is the plaintiff. The party being sued is the defendant. The defendant is the party the plaintiff alleges is responsible for their injuries, economic damages, and non-economic damages.

Many accidents and incidents may result in a personal injury lawsuit. Examples include, but are not limited to:

Most personal injury cases involve an insurance company. The liability insurance provider for the at-fault party negotiates with the injured party to settle the injury claim. However, you do not name the insurance company if you file a lawsuit. The defendant is the party you allege caused your injury.

That does not mean the insurance company will not be involved in the lawsuit. Generally, the insurance company hires a defense attorney to respond to the lawsuit and handle the lawsuit for the defendant.

What Do I Need To Prove To Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Lakewood, CO?

What Do I Need To Prove To Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Lakewood, CO?

You have the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit. Most cases are based on a negligence cause of action. In these cases, the plaintiff must prove the legal elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements of a negligence claim are:

A preponderance of the evidence means there is a greater chance that the facts prove the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries than not. Jurors are the triers of fact in a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, they decide what evidence to believe and whether the evidence proves the above elements.

Does the Defendant Have a Burden of Proof in a Colorado Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Defendants are not required to prove they did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant may present evidence in court to refute the plaintiff’s allegations, including personal, eyewitness, and expert testimony. The defendant may also submit physical and other evidence during their defense.

However, even though the plaintiff has the burden of proving their case, the defendant may raise one or more affirmative defenses. The defendant would have the burden of proving any affirmative defenses they raise. Potential affirmative defenses defendants use in personal injury cases include:

Expiration of the Statute of Limitations

Generally, non-automobile negligence claims have a two-year statute of limitations in Colorado. Unless an exception applies, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the injury date. However, note that the statute of limitations is extended to three years for automobile and other motor vehicle accident claims.

Missing the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense with very few exceptions. If there are no legal grounds to deny the motion, the judge will dismiss the lawsuit for failing to file before the statute of limitations expires.

The best way to fight this defense is to speak with a Lakewood personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. An attorney will calculate the deadline for filing your case and monitor that deadline if you hire the law firm to handle your case.

Contributory Fault

Colorado adopted a modified comparative fault standard for dividing damages in a personal injury case when the plaintiff is partially to blame for causing their injuries. If the plaintiff is more than 49% to blame for causing their injuries, they cannot recover compensation for damages. The defendant must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence for jurors to assign fault to the plaintiff.

If the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, the judge can reduce the damages award by their percentage of fault. Insurance companies use contributory fault to reduce their liability for the claim.

Failure To Mitigate Damages

Another defense defendants may raise is failing to mitigate damages. Injured parties have a duty to avoid making their injuries worse or increasing their damages. They must “mitigate” their damages.

For example, suppose a plaintiff fails to seek prompt medical care. The plaintiff’s injuries worsen because of their delayed medical treatment. The defendant alleges that the plaintiff’s failure to see a doctor caused their injuries to worsen.

The plaintiff would not have required additional medical care, lost time from work, and other damages if they had seen a doctor right away. Therefore, the defendant is not liable for the damages that could have been avoided by seeking prompt medical care.

Get Help From a Lakewood Personal Injury Lawyer

Proving liability for a personal injury case can be challenging. Call our Lakewood personal injury attorneys for a free consultation if you are injured and need to file a claim. We are here to help you when you need trusted legal advice.