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When a Car Accident Claim is in Dispute

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A car accident can be frustrating, particularly if you’re innocent, but the other driver disputes fault. This is the time to keep your temper in check and consult an experienced attorney. Undoubtedly, many car accident claims settle out of court, but many more are disputed and go to trial.

If legal action is filed, the "defendant" should respond to the plaintiff's claim within a certain duration, depending on the state where the case is filed. In Anchorage, a denial response involves disputing (partially or wholly) the plaintiff’s claims and raising defenses to defeat such claims. If you believe that the defendant is at fault, you should contact a car accident attorney in Anchorage. But when can a dispute arise?


3 Common Reasons for Disputed Claims

There are several reasons why car accident claims are disputed, including denying fault, dispute injuries, and more. It’s common for an insurance company or plaintiff to dispute an accident claim filed against them. Most disputes can be resolved during the discovery stage through negotiation. However, the case might have to go to trial if the disputing parties cannot resolve the matter amicably. The following are some reasons why car accident claims are disputed:


  1. Failure to State a Legal Claim

Failing to state a legal claim in the plaintiff’s complaint (a court document that initiates legal action) is a major reason why car accident claims are disputed. This is understandable because causation should be proved to sustain an injury claim.

According to the principle of causation, the plaintiff must link the actions of the accused to their injuries. In other words, showing the plaintiff should prove that the defendant is responsible for their injuries. The law states that the defendant will be relieved acquitted if causation is not proved by the plaintiff.

  1. Contravening the Provisions of the Statute of Limitations

Civil actions should be filed within a certain timeline, depending on the jurisdiction. The statute of limitations specifies the window within which accident casualties should file injury claims against faulting parties. Alaska’s statute of limitations requires personal injury claims, including car accident claims, to be filed within two years of the date of an injury.

In Alaska, personal injury actions include medical malpractice and product liability claims. Additionally, Alaska’s "discovery rule" states that the timeline starts ticking when the plaintiff:

  • Discovers injuries;
  • Should have discovered injuries;
  • Discovers causation – when the plaintiff discovers that the negligent actions of the defendant are directly linked to their injuries.


The defendant can cite a violation of the statute of limitations as a defense. In other words, the defendant is acquitted if the plaintiff’s claim was filed outside of the provisions of the statute of limitations.


  1. Failing to "Mitigate" Damages

Plaintiffs are required to avert further loss (damages) after a car accident or avoid activities that can increase the risk of injuries. Having said that, recoverable damages are reduced proportionately to the rate of the plaintiff’s inaction (failure to prevent more loss). Also, Alaska is a pure comparative negligence state.


Determining Fault in Injury Claims

Insurance companies, adjusters, and attorneys assess the circumstances or facts of car accidents to determine fault. In most accidents, indicators linking the at-fault driver exist. For instance, a traffic violation, such as drunken driving, running a red light, or over-speeding can be used to prove fault. Other factors that can contribute to a car accident can include:

  • Distracted driving;
  • Faulty product–faulty car;
  • Unqualified driver, and more.

The accident reports should provide important information about the accident but you or your legal team has a right to conduct an independent investigation because police reports are not definitive evidence of responsibility/ fault in car accident lawsuits.


Building a Strong Case That Proves Liability

When the other party disputes–wholly or partially, your legal team must gather evidence for building a strong case to prove the defendant’s fault. The process may involve hiring experts, such as an accident reconstruction expert to download the engine control module (ECM) from the other driver’s vehicle.  The ECM provides data to help accident experts make informed opinions/decisions.

Your attorney can also hire an investigator to contact to backcheck the facts of the case by interviewing witnesses. The lawyer can engage the defendant’s insurance company once sufficient evidence of fault has been gathered and the backcheck is through.

Although dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating, they can’t avoid settling an accident claim when presented with strong evidence against their client (the other driver). Also, insurance companies would rather settle than risk legal action that is typically costly.

Disputed car accident claims can be overwhelming and frustrating. However, always know that most car accident claims are resolved out of court–before going to trial.

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