Although people are generally familiar with the stages of a criminal lawsuit, there tends to be an extraordinary amount of misinformation and confusion regarding Florida civil lawsuits. There are many critical stages of a civil lawsuit that can significantly impact a plaintiff’s avenue for recovery after an accident. Individuals should contact an attorney at the onset of their lawsuit to ensure that they maintain the ability to recover for their damages.
Pleadings are the first stage of a Florida personal injury lawsuit. Although the term is often conflated with “all documents” in a case, the term is much narrower in scope. Pleadings are only documents and filings that set forth allegations, causes of actions, and the defending entity’s responses and defenses. This stage includes the complaint, answers, responses, counter and cross-claims, and relevant amendments.
Florida personal injury lawsuits commence when a party files a complaint or petition. The victim or complaining party should include factual assertions and the associated legal claims. In some situations, the pleadings must conform to special rules, such as claims arising out of medical malpractice or governmental entities. Florida Rules of Civil Procedure allow plaintiffs to proceed under inconsistent theories; however, the rule extends to defenses as well. Courts may rule in favor of a defendant and grant summary judgment if the complaint is insufficient. For example, a Florida appeals court recently dismissed at plaintiff’s claims based on a pleading deficit. In that case, the plaintiff asserted a negligence claim against his neighbor for a fire that a third-party contractor started. The plaintiff failed to address the third party in the complaint. The court found that both parties agreed that the defendant was not negligent and, therefore, only a vicarious liability claim would be viable against the defendant. However, the court dismissed the complaint because the plaintiff failed to allege vicarious liability in their pleading.
After the complaint, the defending party can file an answer or a responsive motion. During this stage, the defending party presents affirmative defenses or challenges the legal sufficiency of the complaining party’s claims. After the answer, the defending party may file a counterclaim against the complaining party. Each party may also file cross-claims against a co-party or third-party. Finally, under certain situations, the party may amend their pleadings.
Have You Suffered Injuries In a Florida Accident?
If you have suffered serious injuries in an accident, the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys have nearly 100 years of combined experience representing clients injured in Florida car accidents, premises liability cases, product liability claims, and incidents of medical malpractice victims. Our skilled and experienced attorneys maintain an active practice keeping apprised of relevant substantive and procedural changes. We understand the importance of every stage of a Florida personal injury lawsuit and provide clients with excellent representation. Contact our office at 877-448-8585, to schedule a free initial consultation with a Florida attorney on our team. You can also reach us through our online form.