After you have filed one lawsuit against a defendant after a Florida car accident, you are usually not allowed to file another lawsuit against the same defendant. This is also true if you agree to a settlement to pay for any damages you incur. You only get one bite of the apple. Our Ft. Lauderdale car accident attorney discusses second lawsuits, dismissed cases, and why you need to get it right the first time, below.
Refiling a Car Accident Lawsuit in Florida and the Doctrine of Res Judicata
Once a court has resolved your lawsuit, you are bound by the holding and are typically unable to bring the issue to court again. The controlling legal concept in play is known as res judicata. Res judicata means that when the court enters a judgment on the merits of a case, the decision is final. All parties to the dispute must abide by the judgment and are prohibited from bringing any additional legal claims based on the same dispute.
You can file an appeal if the court decision is not in your favor. This is different than filing a second lawsuit and is only granted under limited circumstances. Typically, a legal error or procedural error occurred during the trial. An appeal will not be granted simply because you did not like the outcome of your lawsuit, according to our Ft. Lauderdale injury lawyer.
Getting Your Florida Car Accident Lawsuit Right the First Time
Personal injury lawsuits arising out of a car accident are often complicated affairs involving multiple parties. Even in cases where only two vehicles are involved, there might be potential third parties you will want to bring into the matter. You want to make sure you include all potentially liable parties when you file your initial lawsuit.
Often, to avoid legal fees or to get a quick check, a person injured in a Florida car accident will file a car accident lawsuit in small claims court or accept a settlement amount offered by an insurance company. By choosing either one of these alternatives, you will lose your ability to bring a personal injury claim. Doing so could be a huge mistake if your injuries result in further medical complications or costs. Rarely will the award or offer cover all your damages, especially if you suffered a severe injury. You have one opportunity to seek recovery for all your damages.
When a lawsuit involves a severe injury or multiple defendants, you need our experienced Hollywood, FL car accident attorney. You want to be able to recover all your damages. Our law office has the staff and resources to calculate your medical expenses, your present and future lost income, and any compensation you deserve for the emotional and mental stress you suffered.
Suing Every Liable Party in Your Florida Car Accident Lawsuit
Florida follows a legal doctrine known as pure comparative fault in personal injury lawsuits. Under this doctrine, every defendant in a car accident is assigned a percentage of fault. To help establish each defendant’s role in an accident, our Miami car accident attorney will thoroughly examine the physical evidence from the crash, review police reports, read through witness statements, and examine photographs and video evidence of the accident. In some cases, our office will hire a professional investigator to reconstruct the accident. To maximize your potential recovery, we want to ensure that all liable parties are included in the lawsuit and a strong case is built against each one.
Filing a Dismissed Car Accident Lawsuit Again in Florida
As stated above, once a Florida court renders its decision in a personal injury case, all the parties involved are bound by the judgment. However, not every case gets to trial or makes it to a final verdict on its merits. An injured person is entitled to accept a settlement offer any time during the process. Sometimes, an insurance company will offer a higher amount than they did initially as the case gets closer to trial. Our knowledgeable Hollywood, FL personal injury attorney will advise you if the settlement is fair considering the strength of your case. If you accept a settlement offer, it functions just like a final decision by the court. You cannot file another lawsuit against the defendant.
Lawsuits can also be dismissed before a final decision. This usually occurs because one of the parties made a procedural error. When the court dismisses a case, it will do so in one of two ways, either “with prejudice” or “without prejudice.” When a lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff is barred from filing another lawsuit based on the same dispute. This typically happens when the facts of a case do not support the plaintiff’s position.
On the other hand, if a lawsuit is dismissed without prejudice, it is possible to file a second lawsuit. One reason a case might be dismissed without prejudice is because of improper service of the original complaint. If the plaintiff corrects the error, then they can refile the lawsuit.
Success in a personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident often hinges on the quality of the evidence in favor of the plaintiff. The best time to get much of that evidence is immediately after an accident. If you attempt to file a lawsuit on your own and it is dismissed without prejudice because you made a procedural error, our office could address the mistake and refile your case. However, in such a circumstance, it is probable that crucial evidence and time was lost, reducing your chances of prevailing in the lawsuit. By immediately retaining our experienced Hallandale Beach car accident lawyer, you put yourself in the best position possible to win your lawsuit.
Call Our South Florida Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
A successful personal injury lawsuit requires preparation. Because you only have one opportunity to seek recovery for your injuries and damages, you want to do it right the first time. Jared K. Newman is a Miami personal injury attorney dedicated to building the best possible case for people hurt in car crashes. If you were injured in a car accident, you need to contact our Hallandale Beach personal injury attorney immediately. Call South Florida Law, PLLC at (954) 932-7877 to schedule a free consultation and to start preparing your lawsuit.