There are many important procedural rules that parties must follow when it comes to a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not file certain documents by certain deadlines, or fail to respond to certain documents, you may waive your right to compensation. As experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers, we are well-versed in North Carolina’s rules and can ensure that your claim is handled effectively and appropriately.
A recent appellate opinion highlights how important it is to abide by procedural rules. In the case, the plaintiff filed a complaint against certain defendants, alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of their medical malpractice. The plaintiff dismissed the lawsuit voluntarily over one year after it was filed. Pursuant to Rule 41(d), the plaintiff was required to pay costs upon the voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. Roughly one year later, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit again, and the defendant responded by filing a motion seeking costs pursuant to Rule 41(d).
Shortly thereafter, the court entered a Consent Order that required the plaintiff to pay costs to the defendant and noted that failing to pay costs within the stated time period would result in the dismissal of the current lawsuit. The defendant emailed a copy of the Consent Order to the plaintiff and later filed a Certificate of Service for the Consent Order. The payment period lapsed, and a few days later the plaintiff notified the defendant via email that a check for costs was being sent. The defendant received the payment but refused to cash the check, stating that it would seek a dismissal of the action pursuant to the Consent Order. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.
The plaintiff first argued that based on Rule 58, the time period for tendering payment was tolled until she was served with notice of the Consent Order. The court rejected this argument, noting that the language of Rule 41(d) was straightforward in setting the time period for when the plaintiff was required to pay costs. The court also noted that the tolling provisions set out in Rule 58 only apply to certain motions, none of which was involved in the Consent Order. Finally, the appellate court noted that Consent Orders are viewed as contracts between the parties, that the plaintiff was therefore contractually bound to pay the amount in the Consent Order by the specified date, and that a tolling provision could not change this contractual requirement. As a result, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit.
If you suffered injuries as a result of a serious accident, it is critical that you explore your legal rights and options as soon as possible to ensure that you do not waive your rights or miss your chance to recover the compensation that you need and deserve. At Maurer Law, we proudly provide legal representation to victims throughout North Carolina in a wide variety of matters. To schedule a free consultation with our compassionate and dedicated personal injury lawyers, call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.