Personal injury lawsuits often involve a number of different parties, each with their own agendas. Consider a car accident. If a negligent driver runs a red light and slams into your car, you would certainly have the right to sue that driver. But what if that driver lacks insurance? In that scenario, you might also need to name your own insurance carrier as a party for purposes of obtaining uninsured motorist (UM) benefits. In addition, any third party that paid for part of your medical care following the accident might have an interest in seeking reimbursement from any money you obtain in your personal injury action.
Of course, the more parties there are to a personal injury lawsuit, the more likely it is one of those parties will try and defeat your case on procedural grounds. This is where having an experienced Cleveland personal injury lawyer by your side can prove essential just to make sure your case gets heard.
Consider this recent decision from the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals in Lucas County, Mendoza v. Seger. This case involves a dispute between an accident victim and her own insurance company. The insurer convinced the trial court to dismiss the victim’s lawsuit, but the Court of Appeals held that was a mistake and returned the case for further proceedings.
Here is some background on what happened. The plaintiff was involved in an auto accident in 2015. According to the plaintiff, the other driver was at-fault. Unfortunately, the other driver was also uninsured.
In November 2018, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, naming the other driver, her insurance company, and Medicaid, as parties. The plaintiff had UM coverage through her insurer, Progressive, while Medicaid paid for her post-accident medical care. Consequently, Medicaid also had a lien against any potential personal injury award obtained by the plaintiff.
The negligent driver chose not to contest the lawsuit. Progressive did respond, filing a series of motions designed to dismiss the case before it was heard on the merits. Progressive’s key argument was that the plaintiff had previously filed and dismissed her lawsuit in before refiling it a second time, which created a problem under Ohio’s statute of limitations.
Without going into too much detail, the trial judge found Progressive’s argument persuasive and granted its motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit “with prejudice,” meaning she could not refile again. The Court of Appeals determined the trial judge applied the law incorrectly. The appeals court said the trial court “considered matters beyond the pleadings,” i.e., it referenced documents outside of the plaintiff’s complaint and Progressive’s answer. This was inappropriate at this stage of the litigation, the appeals court explained, so it reversed the dismissal of the case.
Speak with the Cleveland Car Accident Attorneys at Tittle & Perlmutter Today
As you can see, even in cases where a negligent driver does not contest a personal injury lawsuit, other parties involved may still put up a substantial legal fight. Indeed, you may end up fighting your own insurance company over coverage. If you need help from a qualified Cleveland car accident lawyer, contact Tittle & Perlmutter today at (216) 308-1522.