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Automobile Accidents with International Drivers in Florida

road2In most cases, determining where you should file your lawsuit is pretty easy to ascertain. The matter can become much more complicated, however, if one party is not from the state. Florida is a tourist hub, which means there are lots of travelers from other places on the road at any given time. Often, automobile accidents occur because people are not familiar with the area or local driving rules. When parties in an accident are from different jurisdictions, the process of filing a lawsuit can be quite complex. In Branch v. Selmo, the court addressed the issue of car accidents involving international drivers.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was seriously injured in a car accident while she was in Florida on a business trip from Barbados. The plaintiff was not driving. She was a passenger in the car while her co-worker operated the vehicle. The co-worker was at fault for the car wreck. The plaintiff’s employer was a bank in Barbados. The plaintiff subsequently sued her co-worker and the bank she worked for in Barbados but did not pursue the case any further. Instead, she filed a lawsuit against the same defendants in the state of Florida a year before the statute of limitations was about to expire.

The case progressed in Florida over the next few years until a trial was set. At that time, the co-worker filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Barbados was the appropriate forum to litigate the matter. The co-worker further reasoned that if the verdict was not favorable to the plaintiff in Florida, she would still be able to pursue a lawsuit in Barbados. In this way, the plaintiff could seek a “double recovery.”

Although the defendant’s motion was untimely, the trial court dismissed the action without prejudice and allowed the plaintiff an opportunity to file a motion to amend her complaint as long as she dismissed the Barbados action in a way that would not allow her to seek extra damages in Barbados. Put another way, the court gave the plaintiff a chance to dismiss the other case and provide documentation that the Florida decision would be res judicata.

The plaintiff dismissed the action in Barbados and filed a motion to amend in Florida. This motion was denied by the court because the statute of limitations had passed, and thus the court no longer had jurisdiction over the matter.

The plaintiff appealed. The 3rd DCA reversed the lower court’s decision. The appellate court held that the order of dismissal was not a final judgment that deprived the trial court from having jurisdiction. Instead, it was simply abatement for 20 days, allowing the plaintiff time to dismiss the other case. This intent was evident from the record. Thus, the plaintiff could move forward with her legal claims.

As a highly skilled Miami car accident attorney, Robert Dixon represents those who have been hurt in all types of automobile accidents. We know that being in an accident can affect every part of your life. Complex procedural and legal issues can only worsen the stress of a pending lawsuit. This is precisely why we handle every case with the utmost diligence. We understand the nuances of personal injury law. We will assess the merits of your case and explain all your options to you. To learn more, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

The Concept of “Proximate Cause” in Florida Personal Injury Claims, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 31, 2014

The Role of “Med Pay” in Florida Slip and Fall Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014

Dealing with Tire Blowout Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014