In Florida Personal Injury Cases, The Waiting is Often the Hardest Part – Parkinson v. Kia Motors Corporation

As Florida personal injury attorneys, we understand that people who are injured in an auto accident want their cases resolved as quickly and effectively as possible. A recent ruling from the state’s Fifth District Court of Appeal, however, makes clear that the speed in which a case is resolved depends largely on the trial court’s schedule.

“Although a delay approaching eighteen months to obtain a two-week civil trial in a circuit court in Central Florida is shocking, we have to recognize that under the new regime of ever-decreasing resources, this may be – or may become – the norm,” the Court said in Parkinson v. Kia Motors Corporation, denying a petition for a writ of mandamus that would have required the trial court to set a trial date in a wrongful death suit.

The underlying lawsuit was brought by the representative of a man who was killed in an auto accident while driving a vehicle manufactured by the defendants. According to the court “[h]e was stopped in a line of traffic when a motor vehicle being operated at a high rate of speed by an alcohol intoxicated driver struck the rear of the Kia. The complaint lodged claims for negligence and strict liability against each corporate defendant on the theory of enhanced injury crashworthiness,” which holds an auto manufacturer independently liable in a car accident case for damages caused by the manufaturer’s negligence.

The plaintiff filed a Notice of Jury Trial on June 24, 2010, estimating that the trial would take 15 days. While the trial court considered the petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, the defendants filed a motion to strike the notice of trial, effectively putting the scheduling a trial on hold. The trial court granted the motion, noting that because of the number and complexity of outstanding legal issues, the case was not “ready” for trial. The trial court said that it thought the case might be ready for trial by 2012, and offered to set a date in 2012. The plaintiff sought an order from the appellate court directing the trial court to set a trial date.

Although frustrated by the delay, the court denied the petition, citing Garcia v. Lincare, Inc., 906 So.2d 1268 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) for the proposition that “the trial court has discretion to determine which date is chosen for the trial. In doing so, the court may of course consider such issues as discovery completion, availability of witnesses and counsel, and the court’s own schedule.” Accordingly, the court determined that “[a] 2012 trial date may be unacceptable to [the plaintiff], but we are not in a position, at this stage, to micro-manage the scheduling of this trial.”

Rear end accidents are among the most common types of car collisions in the country. These accidents often occur as a result of distracted or careless driving. The South Florida car accident attorneys at Anidjar & Levine work hard to zealously represent our clients. Our lawyers commonly represent individuals who were injured in rear end collisions, and we persevere to get great results for our clients.

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