People involved in car accidents often suffer bodily harm. As such, if they are involved in more than one collision, it may be difficult to tell which accident caused their injuries. While a person hurt in a car crash has the right to pursue damages from the party responsible for their losses, claims arising out of distinct accidents must typically be asserted in separate lawsuits. Recently, a Florida court discussed when a plaintiff could join parties that caused multiple unrelated accidents as defendants in a lawsuit in an opinion issued in a case arising out of a collision. If you were hurt in a crash, you might be owed damages, and you should contact a Florida car accident attorney to discuss your possible claims.
The Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that in March 2017, the plaintiff was involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer operated by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. He sustained injuries in the crash and brought a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging their negligence caused his harm. As the defendant driver and defendant company were citizens of South Carolina and Illinois, respectively, they removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
Reportedly, in May 2021, the plaintiff moved to join another party as a defendant. Specifically, he was involved in a second car accident in January 2020 and sought leave to join the driver that caused the second collision. The defendants opposed the motion.
Joinder of Additional Defendants in Federal Lawsuits
Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the Rules), a court should freely grant parties leave to amend when justice requires it. Prior to granting such leave, however, the court must address whether the joinder is permissible under the Rules, and if so, determine the appropriate cause of action.
The court explained that the Rules provide that a party may join defendants in one action if there is any common question of law or fact regarding the defendants that will arise in the action, or the claims against them arise out of the same occurrence, transaction, or series of occurrences or transactions.
In the subject case, the court found that the joinder of the party that caused the second accident was improper, because the two collisions were entirely separate, and while they allegedly both contributed to the plaintiff’s harm, the facts surrounding each accident were entirely distinct from one another. The court elaborated that the determination of liability in one claim would have no bearing on the determination of liability in the other. Thus, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion.
Speak to a Trusted Florida Attorney
People hurt in car accidents have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries, but they typically cannot combine claims arising out of unrelated acts of negligence in a single case. If you suffered harm in a collision, the knowledgeable Florida lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us by calling 800-283-7442 or by using our online form to set up a conference.