Procedural Issues That Could Hurt Your Gainesville Personal Injury Case
Bill Allen | March 7, 2023 | Personal Injury
It makes sense to divide Florida personal injury law into two classifications: substance and procedure. A substantive question, for example, might be, “Was the defendant driving negligently at the time of the truck accident?”
A procedural question, by contrast, might be, “Did the plaintiff meet all of the appropriate deadlines?” It is heartbreaking to lose a claim on a mere procedural issue. A description of several such issues appears below.
You Fail To State a Proper Legal Claim
Before you file a lawsuit, it is critical that you know how to state a claim. The court could dismiss your complaint for failure to state a claim, for example, if:
- You filed your complaint in the wrong court; or
- You didn’t accuse the defendant of anything they would be liable for. In other words, the defendant would not be liable even if all the facts you asserted were true.
In Florida, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim can end your case permanently. Alternatively, the judge might allow you to amend your complaint and submit it a second time.
You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline To File a Lawsuit
In most Florida personal injury cases, you have four years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. Although certain circumstances can extend this four-year period, you will lose your claim if you file after the applicable deadline passes.
The Defendant Files a Motion for Summary Judgment
Even if your complaint does state a claim, you must still prove that the facts you allege are true. If not, the defendant can file a Motion for Summary Judgment. If the judge approves it, the case ends. A Motion for Summary Judgment is the defendant’s way of saying that your case is so weak that it would be a waste of judicial resources to continue the trial.
You Sue the Government and You Fail To Comply With the Tort Claims Act
The rules are different if you file a lawsuit that names a government agency as a defendant. After all, any money the government pays you ultimately comes out of the pocket of you and the other taxpayers. To sue the government, you must comply with the Florida Tort Claims Act or the Federal Tort Claims Act, depending on the type of government agency in question.
For example, to file a personal injury claim against a Florida state government entity, you must first file an administrative claim within three years of the accident. Failure to do so will normally kill your claim before it ever gets to court.
Your Expert Witness Is Unqualified
Plaintiffs often use expert witnesses to prove complex subject matter (whether a doctor was negligent, for example). Your expert must be “qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education…” Ultimately it is the court that decides whether an expert is qualified. An advanced degree is not a formal requirement, but is a practical requirement in many fields.
If the court dismisses your expert witness, you won’t necessarily lose your case. You’ll just have to win it without them. You might look for another witness, or you might do without an expert witness altogether. In some cases, such as those involving medical malpractice, an expert witness is a near-necessity.
Let a Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer Sort Things Out For You
Personal injury law, like every other legal practice area, is deceptively complex. Instead of risking your claim by trying to “go it alone,” seek out the assistance of an experienced Gainesville personal injury lawyer.
Remember – if you don’t recover compensation, you don’t pay. And if you do win or settle your claim with a lawyer, you could end up with several times the amount you would have walked away with if you represented yourself.
Contact Our Gainesville Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Gainesville personal injury lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: