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Florida Appellate Court Clarifies What Constitutes “Fraud on the Court,” Reversing the Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Car Accident Lawsuit

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a man who was rear-ended by a truck while he was stopped on the highway. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s potentially inconsistent statements rose to the level of fraud on the court. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff disclosed all of the necessary information; however, the fact that some of the information he provided was contradictory was relevant to his credibility, which should be weighed by a jury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident while he was stopped on the highway. The driver of the truck that struck him was later determined to be drunk. About four years later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, as well as the driver’s employer.

Two months after the plaintiff filed this case, he was involved in another rear-end collision. This case involves the differences in how the plaintiff described the second accident. When he filed an insurance claim after the second accident, he described it as “hard impact very fast.” He also explained that the rear bumper was heavily damaged. However, the plaintiff’s testimony in this case characterized the accident as a minor one that only involved a “few dollars” worth of damage. In fact, the plaintiff initially did not even disclose the second accident when he was asked whether he was involved in any other accidents.

The defendants argued that the plaintiff committed fraud on the court by trying to maximize both of his recoveries. Specifically, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff made the second accident seem to be more serious in the insurance claim related to that accident than he did when he was asked about the accident in this case. The lower court agreed with the defendant, finding that the plaintiff committed a fraud on the court and that his testimony should be prevented from being considered by the jury.

The plaintiff appealed, and the case was reversed on appeal. The appellate court explained that, while the plaintiff’s testimony was contradictory at times, that is properly an issue that should be for the jury to weigh and consider. The court explained that the plaintiff did disclose the fact that he was in an accident and that he received medical treatment; the severity of the accident is all that was unclear from his testimony.

The Importance of Dedicated Legal Counsel

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. When someone files a South Florida personal injury lawsuit, they will almost certainly be asked certain questions under oath in their attorney’s presence. If you have been involved in a South Florida accident, you should consult with a dedicated attorney prior to filing your case, so you will know what to expect moving forward. The skilled injury attorneys at the law firm of Cecere Santana have decades of experience representing clients in a wide range of personal injury actions, and they know how to effectively advise their clients in all of the aspects of their case, including depositions and interrogatories. Call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Determining the Liability of Children for Accidents in Florida, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 27, 2017.

Florida Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Decision, Allowing Premises Liability Case To Proceed to Trial, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 10, 2017.

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