Florida Court Upholds Arbitration Clause After Car Accident

It is important to be aware that many contracts contain arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause means that instead of bringing a dispute to court, any disagreements will be heard by an unbiased arbitrator. Arbitration is faster and less costly than traditional litigation. However, the parties also do not have all the rights that they would normally have in court. In a case heard by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, the court looked at an arbitration clause that was included in a contract to buy a car. If you are in a car accident like the plaintiff here, you should contact an experienced South Florida car accident attorney and they can help you to bring your claims in court. They also can represent you in any arbitration mandated by a contract.

Events Leading Up to the Car Accident 

The plaintiff purchased a car from the defendant. In the contract for the sale of the car, there was an arbitration provision. It allowed the plaintiff to bring any actions arising out of the purchase of the car in arbitration. A few hours after buying the car, the plaintiff got into a car accident. He believes that the accident was caused by defects in the new car. The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant.

The defendant car dealership moved to compel arbitration before filing any other motion. They moved for an extension of time to respond to the complaint, as they waited to hear back from the motion to compel. At the hearing the defendant noted that they couldn’t answer the complaint due to the pending motion to compel arbitration. The plaintiff had not responded to plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration. However, the court – of its own accord – denied the motion to compel and ordered the defendant to answer the complaint. The defendant appealed to this court.

Legal Standards For Motion to Compel 

Florida statutes are clear on the issue. If a party who files a motion to compel arbitration can show an agreement to arbitrate, and the other party does not dispute or oppose the motion, the court should require the parties to arbitrate. The appeals court here noted that the trial court did not include any discussion or argument as to why they were denying the motion to compel arbitration. Therefore, as the plaintiff did not object to the arbitration, the court should not have denied the motion to compel arbitration.

The appeals court here then reversed the order denying the motion to compel. However, they sent it back to the trial court to decide the motion. Importantly, the court noted that it was not properly noticed or briefed and so the defendant – and the plaintiff if he wishes to respond – must correct those errors before the trial court can make an official finding. 

Contact an Experienced South Florida Car Accident Attorney Today

After a car accident, you should contact a knowledgeable South Florida car accident attorney as soon as possible to help you understand your options for moving forward.. The car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you to determine who should be liable for your accident. Use the contact form on this website or call them at 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999 or to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.

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Florida Court Addresses When Car Accident Victims Can Be Awarded Attorney’s Fees

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