When you suddenly find out you are being sued for personal injury damages, your first reaction may be to panic. Not knowing what will come next, you may think about having to pay thousands of dollars in damages to a person for something you never expected to happen. Whether it is a car accident, dog bite, slip and fall, or other type of accident where another person alleges they were injured due to your negligence or carelessness, these situations can turn chaotic in an instant. Should you find yourself being sued for personal injuries, here are six tips you should keep in mind.
Analyze the Police Report
When you hire an attorney to represent you as the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, one of the first things they will do is analyze the police report of the incident. By doing so, they can often find discrepancies between the report and the plaintiff’s statements, giving them an opening to question the plaintiff’s claims and motives.
In almost any situation involving a personal injury lawsuit, eyewitness testimony plays a crucial role in determining the outcome. Because of this, always make sure you and your attorney are able to track down and speak with anyone who witnessed what happened. In many cases, eyewitness testimony can differ greatly from what the plaintiff has said, creating even more doubt about their story.
Plaintiff At Fault for Their Injuries
In many personal injury lawsuits, it is often found that rather than the defendant being responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, it was the plaintiff who instead acted in a negligent or careless manner. For example, should you be sued by someone because your dog bit them, a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the incident may show the person ignored warnings about the dog, set foot onto private property that was posted with “Beware of Dog” signs, or chose to harass the dog to the point of the dog retaliating with a bite. If this is proven to be true, there is a good chance the plaintiff’s lawsuit may either be dismissed or lose out if the case goes to court.
Choose Your Words Carefully
If you want to make certain you will be named as the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, say something such as “I’m sorry” to police, eyewitnesses, or the plaintiff. If you do, your words will be used against you by the plaintiff’s attorney, insurance company, and by police in the accident report. Once you say anything that sounds as though you are admitting fault for the accident, you instantly make it much harder for your attorney to win your case. Therefore, always use common sense in these situations, and say as little as possible until you have spoken to an attorney.
Reaching a Settlement
In some situations where you are being sued in a personal injury lawsuit, it may be to your advantage to reach a settlement with the defendant. Should your attorney advise you the chances of winning your case are very minimal, you can ask your attorney to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. While you will ultimately have to pay monetary damages to the plaintiff, the amount you pay may be far less than if the case goes to trial and a jury gets to determine how much you should pay.
Like any legal case, a personal injury lawsuit focuses not only on eyewitness testimony, but also on the evidence surrounding the accident. Because of this, always make sure you and your attorney keenly examine any and all evidence that supposedly points to you being at fault. For example, if you were involved in a car accident where another person was injured, evidence can often show the other person was driving distracted or in a reckless manner. Should your lawyer be able to prove this in court, chances are you will walk away a winner.