Florida Court Discusses Discovery in Car Accident Cases

Typically, if a person injured in a car accident enters into a settlement agreement with the party responsible for the crash before a lawsuit is filed, it will be considered a complete resolution of the claims. In some cases, though, it may be unclear whether the parties actually entered into a contractual settlement agreement, and the injured party will proceed with litigation. Recently, a Florida court discussed the right of a defendant to question a plaintiff’s attorney regarding the settlement of a claim in a case in which the defendant argued the plaintiff was improperly seeking damages despite previously settling claims arising out of the underlying accident. If you were injured in a car accident, you only have one chance to recover damages, and it is prudent to speak to a dedicated Florida car accident lawyer to determine your potential claims.

The Underlying Accident and Negotiations

It is reported that there was a three-car accident involving the plaintiff, the defendant, and another party. The defendant’s car struck the third-party’s car, which then struck the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff and his son were both injured in the crash. Following the accident, the plaintiff and the third party asserted claims against the defendant. The parties reportedly entered into a settlement agreement, wherein the defendant’s insurer agreed to pay her policy limits, which were divided among the three injured parties.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and attached evidence regarding the settlement agreement to her motion. The plaintiff opposed the motion and filed affidavits stating that no settlement occurred. The defendant then sought to depose the plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff on issues pertaining to settlement. The plaintiff sought and was granted a protective order precluding such discovery, and the defendant appealed.

Orders Barring Discovery

When evaluating a non-final order, a court must assess whether the lower court departed from the essential requirements of the law, whether the person seeking relief will suffer a material injury for the remainder of the case, and whether an adequate remedy exists on post-judgment appeal. In sum, a court will only grant certiorari relief when a trial court’s departure from the core requirements of the law will cause a party to suffer irreparable harm that cannot be remedied post-judgment.

While orders granting discovery are often granted certiorari review, an order denying discovery must effectively annihilate a party’s claim, defense, or counterclaim to constitute material, irreparable harm. A court will find irreparable harm resulting from the denial of discovery in cases in which the information sought can only be obtained from the discovery that is prohibited. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in issuing the underlying order, which was certain to result in irreparable harm. Thus, the order was vacated.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Florida Attorney

People injured in car accidents are often owed damages, but they can only recover once for their harm. If you were injured in a collision, the knowledgeable Florida car accident attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in pursuing the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us at 800-283-7442 or via the form online to set up a meeting.

Contact Information