What Are Extenuating Circumstances? 

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Extenuating circumstances is a legal phrase that you may hear in a criminal case or personal injury lawsuit in Nebraska. In a personal injury case, extenuating circumstances may come into play if an insurance company attempts to blame your injuries on something other than the defendant’s actions or failure to act. Learn more about this legal subject to prepare your argument in case it comes up as a defense to your claim.

What Does Extenuating Circumstances Mean?

Cornell Law Schools’ definition of extenuating circumstances are facts or details that are relevant and necessary to fully understand a situation. They are also referred to as mitigating factors. In a criminal or civil case, extenuating circumstances must be taken into consideration to fully grasp the facts of the case.

Depending on the facts presented, extenuating circumstances could lead to a person’s actions being viewed as less severe or more severe. This can mean a decreased or increased punishment in a criminal case, or changes in the value of the damages (financial compensation) awarded in a civil case.

How Might Extenuating Circumstances Affect a Personal Injury Case?

Typically, extenuating circumstances are brought up in a personal injury case as a defense tactic by the defendant or his or her insurance company. An insurance provider may allege that it was not its policyholder that caused the claimant’s injuries, but instead, extenuating circumstances. For example, an insurer in a car accident claim may claim that the roads were slippery due to a recent storm and that this is what caused the crash, rather than the defendant’s actions.

If a defense involving extenuating or mitigating circumstances succeeds, this can diminish or even eliminate the defendant’s percentage of fault for a victim’s injuries. If the courts agree that the accident and injury in question most likely would not have occurred were it not for the extenuating circumstances, this could protect the defendant from liability for the accident – and interfere with the victim’s ability to recover compensation.

If you are a plaintiff or injured party in a personal injury lawsuit in Nebraska, extenuating circumstances could reduce or take away the financial recovery that you collect from a defendant. You may no longer be able to hold one or more parties accountable for your injury if the defense proves that it was caused wholly by extenuating circumstances. Otherwise, the courts may reduce your recovery award by the percentage of fault allocated to mitigating circumstances.

Extenuating Circumstances in Criminal Law

In criminal law, extenuating circumstances often mean that a punishable action – such as a crime – can be forgiven due to the unusual situation surrounding the incident. In some cases, criminal charges against a defendant may be dropped due to mitigating circumstances. For example, if a defendant only assaulted someone because he thought he was acting in self-defense, the extenuating circumstances could lead to case dismissal.

Conversely, extenuating circumstances could increase a defendant’s penalties by making his or her actions more severe. If the extenuating circumstances constitute aggravating factors – such as committing a crime with a deadly weapon – they can increase the defendant’s criminal penalties. The effect that extenuating circumstances have on a criminal case depends on the facts and details that are presented.

How an Attorney Can Help

If an insurance company attempts to reduce your payout by placing at least partial blame for your injury on extenuating factors – such as faulty equipment or hazardous property conditions – a lawyer can help you combat this defense. Your lawyer can prepare your case for all potential defense tactics, including the argument of mitigating circumstances. This can help you optimize your financial recovery even when faced with this defense strategy. Discuss how extenuating circumstances may impact your specific case during a free consultation at Knowles Law Firm for more information.