Jason Stephens | June 16, 2023 | Personal Injury
Personal injury law is complicated. If you pursue a claim, you will face many obstacles. Two common types of obstacles are procedural issues and substantive issues. Procedural issues are more than just common. In fact, they are nearly universal.
If the defendant successfully raises your procedural issue in court, the court will dismiss your case. If it dismisses your case “with prejudice,” your case is over unless you appeal the dismissal. If it dismisses your case “without prejudice,” you can try to repair any deficiency in your claim and submit it again. Following is a list of just a few of the procedural issues that you need to look out for.
Failure To State a Claim
When you file a complaint, you need to include a specific statement of your claim. If you leave out anything critical, the defendant will file a Texas motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
You might, for example, sue the defendant for personal injury due to a car accident without even claiming that the defendant actually caused the accident. The judge might then dismiss your case for failure to state a claim.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline Has Passed
In most cases, you have until two years after the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in a Texas court. If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, the defendant will raise the statute of limitations as a defense, and the judge will dismiss your personal injury claim with prejudice.
The Court Lacks Personal Jurisdiction Over the Defendant
This might mean you filed your claim in the wrong court. For example, if you live in California, the defendant lives in Florida, and the defendant injured you in a car accident that occurred in Texas, you might be tempted to file your claim in a California court for your own convenience.
But in this case, the defendant will likely seek dismissal over lack of personal jurisdiction since California has no direct connection to the case.
However, in this scenario, you could still refile your case in Texas if the statute of limitations deadline has not expired.
You Sued the Wrong Party
The “deep pockets” approach to litigation is popular; sue whoever has the most money because they are more likely to actually pay your claim. The party you sue, however, must bear legal liability, and you might mistakenly sue the wrong party.
Suppose, for example, that John Doe injures you through careless driving. Unfortunately, however, John Doe has no insurance and little money. Consequently, you sue John Doe’s employer on the grounds that they bear liability as the employer.
John Doe’s employer is not liable, however, unless John was acting within the scope of their employment duties at the time of the accident. If you sue the wrong party, the judge will dismiss your claim against that party.
Your Complaint Is Invalid
You must file a formal complaint to initiate a Fort Worth, Texas, personal injury lawsuit. Unless you are in small claims court, very strict formal requirements apply. The court can dismiss your claim if your complaint is improperly formatted. Fortunately, the judge will probably dismiss your claim without prejudice, which means you can try again.
You Refuse To Comply With Pretrial Discovery
Pretrial discovery is a process whereby each party demands evidence that is in the possession of the other party. The defendant might demand, for example, that you submit to an independent medical examination of your injuries. You might demand that the defendant produce a waiver of liability that you signed. If you refuse to cooperate with the discovery process, the defendant can ask the court to sanction you.
The Court Refuses To Accept Your Evidence
The Texas Rules of Evidence forbid certain kinds of evidence. The court might, for example, rule that an expert witness you seek to call is unqualified. Another example is subsequent remedial measures, meaning you cannot use the fact that the defendant repaired the condition that injured you as evidence that it was dangerous in the first place.
You Probably Need a Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer
Unless your claim is eligible for resolution in Small Claims Court (for claims under $20,000), you are likely to face procedural issues that you lack the ability to deal with. You might not know how to state a claim, for example.
Yes, you can try to settle your claim instead of filing a lawsuit. The defendant, however, is likely to “smell blood” if they realize you’re not ready for court. If they do, you can forget about any major concessions from them.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107