Recent Appellate Opinion Highlights the Importance of Truthfulness in Personal Injury Cases

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion dismissing a plaintiff’s complaint against the defendant, based on the fact that the plaintiff concealed prior injuries that he had suffered. The case is important for Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the importance of being truthful in all statements to the court.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident that he alleged was caused by the defendant. After the accident, the plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries to his head, lower back, and shoulder. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for his injuries.

The case proceeded to the discovery phase, at which the parties were to exchange relevant requested information. As a part of discovery, the plaintiff was asked about his prior medical conditions in a set of written questions. In these questions, the plaintiff indicated that he had no prior back, neck, or shoulder injuries. However, when the defendant asked the plaintiff to sign a release to obtain his medical records, the plaintiff refused.

The defendant later obtained a subpoena to obtain the plaintiff’s medical records. The records indicated that the plaintiff had been treated for injuries to his neck and back as recently as four months before the accident.

The defendant moved to dismiss the case, based on the plaintiff’s false and misleading answers to the discovery questions, arguing that the plaintiff’s refusal to sign the medical release evidenced his intent to misrepresent his prior injuries. The court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that dismissal was too harsh a sanction.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal, the issue was framed as one of whether the severity of the sanctions was appropriate. Thus, the factual determination of whether the plaintiff engaged in misrepresentations was not at issue – it was assumed that he did.

The appellate court first noted that the outright dismissal of a plaintiff’s claim is an extreme remedy that is rarely appropriate. However, here, the court found that the lower court was not acting beyond its discretion in dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that the plaintiff’s actions were clearly an attempt to “subvert the judicial process,” and courts have the ability to impose the strictest of sanctions to deter such conduct. Thus, the court upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of claims, including car accident cases. We pride ourselves on our ability to zealously fight on behalf of our clients while staying within the ethical bounds of the profession in order to not jeopardize our clients’ rights. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a dedicated South Florida injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Verdict in Favor of Patient Reversed by Court Due to Patient’s Failure to Prove Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 19, 2017.

Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Provide Specific Location of Injury, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 4, 2018.

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