Many accidents and injury claims involve someone breaking the law, for example, injuring someone while trying to rob them or causing a car accident while driving drunk. Because of this, personal injury law sometimes overlaps with crucial concepts from criminal law, including the idea of justification.
When you file a claim against a negligent party for your accident, you need to prove their fault. So long as you can show that their negligence was the primary reason you got hurt, you can receive financial compensation. The defense and their insurance companies are going to try to claim that the actions that took place weren’t negligence but instead justified and reasonable.
Defining Justification Under the Law
When someone claims justification, they’re saying they had a good reason to do what they did, even if it was illegal. In some extreme cases, the court will accept the justification for their action, effectively excusing them. Some examples of justification include driving above the speed limit to rush to the hospital or trespassing to recover your stolen property.
These examples can be legitimate, but they’re often the exception and not the rule. In most cases, a negligent party’s justifications will involve giving excuses in court to absolve themselves of any guilt. These include:
- You didn’t know it was illegal. Typically, ignorance is not an excuse in the courtroom.
- You were angry at the person. Many crimes involve intense emotions, vendettas, or feelings that the other person was unfair; this does not excuse illegal behavior.
- You thought they were breaking the law. This is a gray area because you do have a right to self-defense. However, using excessive force is not usually justified. For example, if you violently attack someone because you saw them stealing a candy bar, it’s not justified.
Justification needs to meet the context of the case at hand. Exaggerating “duty” or the “need” to commit a negligent act is often a common technique that the defense or insurance companies will use to downplay your accident.
How Does Justification Affect Personal Injury Claims?
Justification usually only comes up in personal injury claims when someone is trying to avoid being held responsible for the injury. For example, if you are the victim of the accident, it means someone else’s recklessness or carelessness caused you harm, and they should be liable for the cost.
However, by claiming justification, the at-fault party essentially claims that what they did was the right thing to do. If the court accepts this, it might weaken your claim or even mean you do not receive a financial recovery.
This is not uncommon in personal injury cases. It tends to come up most often in certain types of cases:
- Car accident claims where one party broke the law.
- Premises claims (such as a workplace injury), if the party responsible is claiming that they had a good reason not to follow normal safety procedures.
- Assaults, where the victim of the assault was (rightly or wrongly) suspected of having committed a crime.
These claims can become complex very quickly. Therefore, we recommend that the victim of an accident should speak to a lawyer. This is even more important if the other party claims their actions were justified.
What Can I Do Against the At-Fault Party’s Justifications?
When the negligent party responsible for your accident starts to make justifications, the best thing you can do is gather up as much evidence as possible such as:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Surveillance footage
- Witness testimonies
- Expert testimonies
The more evidence you have supporting your side of the story, the better it is to fight back against the defense’s justifications. As long as you fight back properly with strong evidence and solid legal representation, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to recover financial compensation.
Have you been involved in an accident? John Foy & Associates has some of Georgia’s most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers ready to assist you. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.