In most Florida car accident cases, the issue of who is liable for the harm caused by the accident is disputed. Thus, throughout the course of litigation, both the plaintiff and defendant will attempt to gather facts and evidence in support of their respective positions. Even if the parties cannot agree on all of the facts regarding how the accident occurred, either party may be able to narrow the issues that will be disputed at trial through requests for admissions. Recently, the District Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Florida discussed the purpose and limitations of request for admission, in a lawsuit arising out of a car accident. If you were harmed in a South Florida car accident that was caused by another driver it is critical to retain an experienced South Florida car accident attorney who will vigorously fight to help you recover any damages you may be owed.
Factual Background of the Case
Reportedly, the plaintiff was driving a car when she was involved in a collision with a boat trailer driver. The plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that she struck the defendant’s boat trailer from behind because he was driving under the speed limit and his brake lights were not operational. Conversely, the defendant alleged that his lights were operational, and he was traveling at the speed limit. The defendant sent the plaintiff requests for admissions, asking the plaintiff to concede causation, negligence, and damages. The plaintiff denied the requests. Following a trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant. The court subsequently granted attorney’s fees to the defendant, pursuant to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining to requests for admissions. The plaintiff appealed.
Award of Attorney’s Fees for Requests for Admission
The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure permit the trial court to award attorney’s fees against a party that fails to admit facts set forth in a request for admissions. The purpose of requests for admissions is to narrow and define the disputed issues between the parties by compelling admission to those facts that cannot reasonably be disputed. In the subject case, the court noted that there is an important distinction between requests for admissions that would narrow facts for trial and requests that go to the ultimate dispute of the case. As the requests in the subject case went to the ultimate issue of the case, permitting the defendant to recover attorney’s fees would render the rule a prevailing party rule, which was not the intent of the statute. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.