What Are the Risks of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
Many situations may give rise to the need for a personal injury lawsuit. A loved one passing away unexpectedly in the hands of a Florida nursing home, a car accident causing a permanent spinal cord injury, or a daycare center inexplicably abusing your child are all reasons to pursue justice and compensation with a civil court claim. However, not all personal injury lawsuits come risk-free to plaintiffs in the state of Florida. Carefully weigh your options and speak to an attorney before deciding which course of action is right for you.
The Defendant Files a Motion to Dismiss Your Case
After you file your claim against the defendant, or the party allegedly responsible for your injuries, the defendant has the opportunity to accept the claim and offer a settlement, deny the claim and go to trial, or file a motion for the court to dismiss the case. The court might grant a motion to dismiss and throw your case out if any of the following are true:
- You missed the deadline to file. In Florida, important statutes of limitations exist to limit the amount of time an injured person has to bring a claim. Failure to file a personal injury claim within the state’s four-year deadline could result in the approval of a motion to dismiss.
- You filed with the wrong venue. Specific courts will hear your case depending on the county where the accident occurred, the county where you and the defendant live, and the value of the damages you seek. Filing with the wrong venue could result in a failed claim.
- You file your claim incorrectly. If you failed to state a claim, didn’t include a defendant who must participate in the case, or served the complaint incorrectly, you could lose your right to file.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit only for the defendant to answer it with a motion to dismiss can be a waste of your time, money, and energy. If the courts agree with the defendant and grant the motion, you might lose your opportunity to seek compensation altogether.
You Spend Money to File Only to Lose Your Case
Most personal injury lawyers operate on contingency-fee pay structures. This means you don’t have to pay their service fees unless you win a settlement or jury verdict. You may still have to pay any other costs, however, such as fees to file with the courts and the costs of hiring investigators or experts. If your lawyer doesn’t use a contingent-fee structure, you’ll also have to pay attorney’s fees. Lawsuits can be expensive, but worthwhile if you win. If you lose your case, on the other hand, you could be looking at a much larger bill than you would have for a less expensive settlement agreement.
The Court Finds You at Fault
One of the worst things that could happen to a plaintiff is if the lawsuit backfires and the courts end up finding the victim at fault for the accident. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means a plaintiff can receive at least partial compensation as long as he or she isn’t 100% at fault. The courts will reduce the award by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
If you pursue a personal injury claim only to end with the courts assigning you the majority of fault, you might receive hardly anything for the claim. There’s even a chance that the courts order you to pay for the defendant’s court costs and attorney fees for bringing the claim when you were mostly at fault. The best way to minimize your risks during a Florida personal injury lawsuit is to work with a reputable attorney.