January 21, 2022 | Firm News
Filing a personal injury claim can be a daunting task, if not downright terrifying. Lawsuits are often complicated matters which require the skill and expertise of a qualified Fort Lauderdale injury attorney. Perhaps you have filed a personal injury lawsuit and success is not exactly on the horizon, or maybe your case seems like a lost cause. You may be wondering if you can file your claim again and give it another try. While the issue is a bit complex, essentially the answer is both yes and no.
Hallandale Beach personal injury lawyer Jared K. Newman explains the restrictions placed on victims bringing a personal injury lawsuit two times in Florida.
For the most part, once lawsuits have been decided on their merits, meaning a judge has ruled on key substantive issues, or a jury has rendered a verdict, you cannot file your lawsuit again. If everyone were allowed to keep filing the same lawsuits over and over again until they won, the entire justice system would come to a grinding halt. It is important to understand when your case has been heard on its merits, because once this happens there is no going back.
A case is heard on its merits when a court has ruled on important issues of fact, rather than issues of technical procedure. To put it more plainly, “the merits” are based on what happened when you were injured, such as how your injury occurred and who is at fault, and procedural issues are more about how a case gets to court, such as filling out the proper forms and going through the appropriate legal channels. If a judge has ruled on something like the defendant’s negligence or fault, or maybe decided that you were partially responsible for your own injuries, your case has been heard on its merits.
if you’ve won your case with the help of a personal injury or car accident lawyer in Hallandale Beach, congratulations! You are one major step closer to the end of your case and moving on. However, defendants may appeal when they lose, and courts may need to go over your case again to make sure they got everything right the first time around. You might feel like your case is being tried twice, but it’s not. Defendants can appeal issues they feel were decided incorrectly and, if they are right, your damages could be reduced.
Once everything is said and done and your case is completely over, you may be wondering if you can file again. Maybe you lost and you want another chance to prove your case, or maybe you won but you think you should have been awarded more damages. You may also have different claims arising out of the same accident or event that lead to your injuries in the first place. If your case was heard on the merits, you cannot file the same case again due two legal principles called res judicata and collateral estoppel. These terms refer to claim preclusion and issue preclusion, respectively. Claim preclusion means that if your claim has already been litigated once before, it cannot be litigated again, and you are barred from filing the claim a second time. Issue preclusion is a bit less broad and bars the re-litigation of specific issues within a claim.
The principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel are more complex and nuanced than described here. Generally, cases cannot be tried twice under these principles, but there are some exceptions to the rules. You may be able to sue the same defendant again for reasons similar to your first claim, but the same claim cannot be heard twice. If you think your case deserves a second chance in court, you should consult our Hollywood, FL personal injury attorney.
if your case ends without having been heard on its merits, you may be able to file again. Sometimes cases are dismissed for reasons that have nothing to do with the facts. Instead technical issues, like procedural mistakes and technicalities, can result in the dismissal of a case. If your case was dismissed, it would have been dismissed “with prejudice” or “without prejudice.”
if your case was dismissed with prejudice, unfortunately you are out of luck. This means the case was heard on its merits. As discussed previously, when a court hears a case on its merits, the case cannot be heard again. However, your case may be dismissed without prejudice. This means your case was dismissed for reasons not within the facts or merits, like technical defects, and you may file your case again if these defects are corrected.
Reasons your case would be dismissed without prejudice are often problems with procedure and legal technicalities. For example, if important parts of your case, such as the complaint or other pleadings, are filed incorrectly, or in some other way fail, the court may dismiss your case on technical grounds. Your case could also be dismissed for very simple reasons. If your pleadings fail to state any injuries you sustained in your personal injury lawsuit, your case may be dismissed without prejudice for insufficient pleadings. You may be able to file the same claim again as long as you make sure to include your injuries in your pleadings. It is critical that you follow the proper procedures and protocols when getting your case into court. Lawsuits are complex and difficult at the best of times, so it is crucial that you get help from our qualified Davie personal injury lawyers.
To conclude, you generally cannot file the same lawsuit twice in the state of Florida. Once your case has been heard in court and decided on its merits, you are barred from filing the same case again. The merits of a case involve the facts surrounding your personal injury claim, mostly how you were injured and who is to blame. The principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel prevent you from filing claims that have already been heard by a court. However, your case may end without ever being heard on the merits. If your case is instead dismissed on a technicality, such as improper pleadings, you may have another chance to file and correct any technical or procedural problems.
if you were injured in an accident and want to file your personal injury lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact our Miami, FL personal injury lawyers at South Florida Law, PLLC for a free consultation. You can reach our law offices today at (954) 932-7877.