Extenuating circumstances is a legal term that may be used in criminal or personal injury cases. Combining the Latin words “ex” and “tenuis”, extenuating basically means that a punishable action becomes forgivable. In some instances, the wrongdoer may be forgiven or pardoned. However, it is more often that a punishment is reduce with a lower charge, shorter sentence, or decrease in the amount of damages awarded.
Sometimes extenuating circumstances are referred to as mitigating factors. These are facts or details of a case that can make the person’s actions seem less severe. The opposite would be aggravating factors that could increase criminal punishment.
Examples of Extenuating Circumstances
Age is one factor that may be considered. If a minor is involved in a crime, such as a robbery, has no criminal record, or may have issues such as drug addiction, they may receive a lesser charge than an older person who planned the event. That person’s criminal history will also be taken into account. Meanwhile, addiction is sometimes considered as a mitigating factor, as is mental illness.
The concept can apply to a wide range of situations. Being absent from work or school often results in a penalty, but a medical issue can be a mitigating factor especially if you have a doctor’s note. If you were the victim of a car accident and injured, it’s understandable you may need time off for treatment. A police report, medical bills, and other forms of proof can verify your circumstances an employer or, in a personal injury lawsuit, to an insurance company.
There are often mitigating factors in auto accident and other personal injury cases. While the insurance company may aim to reduce payout by placing at least partial blame on you, factors such as faulty equipment or hazardous road conditions can be considered or litigated. A slippery road, gas/oil spill, poor signage, or negligence of another driver causing you to lose control of your vehicle are other examples, especially in single-car accidents.
How Extenuating Circumstances Are Used in a Case
The concept of mitigating circumstances isn’t always interpreted the same way. A judge may consider them only during sentencing. Or, during a trial, various facts and information may be used to make the defendant seem less blameworthy. One judge, or even a state, may interpret a particular circumstance differently than another.
Mitigating circumstances are considered by various criminal justice decision makers. They can help a judge, prosecutor, juror, or police officer determine how to handle a case. One or more mitigating factors may be considered from the time a police officer encounters a crime or accident to when a case is heard in court.
How Do Extenuating Circumstances Impact Your Personal Injury Claim?
If you don’t believe you were at fault for a single-car crash, your attorney will evaluate the circumstances of the incident. There may be factors beyond your control. An experienced personal injury lawyer can use these in your defense and in negotiating with the other side or the insurance company. They can also help navigate instances in which your settlement may be taxable. It is therefore important to review your finances together after a settlement is reached.
Extenuating circumstances may also impact enforcement of the statute of limitations. In California, you have two years from the date of your accident/injury to file a lawsuit against the opposing party. There are only a few exceptions. If, for example, you were unable to file the lawsuit in time due to medical reasons, an extension may be granted.
Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
Taking on the insurance companies and winning a fair settlement requires addressing many factors. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorney has helped recover millions of dollars in damages over the years. In building your case, we’ll consider all the details of the accident, including related expenses, it’s impact on your life, and extenuating circumstances that can affect your compensation. We are on your side and will fight for you all the way. Call 888-952-2952 to schedule your free consultation.