Avoid Filing a Frivolous Lawsuit
Some personal injury lawsuits don’t succeed at trial. Usually that’s because the plaintiff couldn’t prove her case or didn’t follow the proper procedures. But sometimes, a lawsuit fails because the plaintiff had no reason to be filing the claim at all. There’s a difference between filing a claim that isn’t viable and filing a lawsuit that is completely frivolous.
For example, in 2008 two Jacksonville attorneys filed hundreds of lawsuits against tobacco companies, but they did so without authorization and on behalf of people who have never smoked. In fact, more than 500 of these people were dead. It turns out that the attorneys filed at least 1,250 frivolous cases. Their scheme began unraveling a few years ago after the court sent questionnaires directly to the plaintiffs. A panel of four federal judges ordered the attorneys to pay more than $9 million in sanctions.
This is a pretty extreme example, but it’s important to understand what is considered legally frivolous so that you don’t fall into that trap.
What Is a Frivolous Lawsuit?
A lawsuit is frivolous if the plaintiff knows that the claim doesn’t have legal merit, and that it has little or no chance of succeeding. You (and your attorney) will be sanctioned by the court if you knew or should have known that:
- There are no material facts to support your claim or
- There is no legal basis for your claim based on the material facts.
There are plenty of lawsuits that aren’t supported by the law or the facts. The difference is what the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney knew or should have known about the merits of the claim. It all comes down to the plaintiff’s intent in filing the lawsuit.
How to File a Non-Frivolous Personal Injury Lawsuit
Consult with an experienced attorney before filing your claim. But do so as soon as possible, because there is a deadline (also called the statute of limitations) for filing personal injury lawsuits in Florida. You must file your personal injury claim within four years of the accident or you’ll lose the opportunity to seek compensation for your damages.
You also need to know that Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means defendants pay damages that are proportionate to their percentage of fault. It doesn’t matter if the defendant is 100 percent at fault or 5 percent at fault. There is no minimum threshold of responsibility when it comes to awarding damages. But this also means that plaintiffs who are partly to blame for their injuries won’t be fully compensated for their injuries. They’ll have to shoulder a percentage of the damages themselves.
Contact Us Today
Contact a Miami personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you suspect that someone’s negligence caused your injury. We will examine the facts of your case and help determine if you have a viable personal injury claim before filing a lawsuit.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.