What Is “Fraud Upon The Court” In A Personal Injury Case?
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, most of the time, your best remedy is to file a personal injury suit. However, it is critical to ensure that in doing so, you are as truthful as possible, because a failure to do so can actually get your case dismissed. This is called ‘fraud upon the court’ and it can cause problems that can reappear much later on, even sometimes apart from the circumstances surrounding your current case.
A fraud upon the court is basically exactly what it sounds like – when a party to a lawsuit has either affirmatively misrepresented or concealed material facts about their case in order to try and twist a trial court’s ruling in their favor. If someone conceals a fact that might be relevant about their personal injury claim, or actively misrepresents or lies about critical points that might have evidentiary value, that will very often rise to the level of a fraud on the court. The remedies for a fraud upon the court can vary widely, depending on the nature of the case and just how egregious the fraudulent conduct was.
If evidence of fraud is brought to the court, an evidentiary hearing will be held to determine the validity of the assertion. The trial court does have quite a bit of discretion in determining what the appropriate punishment should be – but very often, the answer will be a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims (or, if it is found that the defendant acted fraudulently, any affirmative defenses they may have put forward will be dismissed).
The Implications In Personal Injury Cases
Fraud upon the court can make a huge difference in a personal injury case because a lot of the ultimate determinations that need to be made hinge on relatively subjective factors. If a plaintiff, for example, conceals the fact they may have injured their back previously, when bringing a personal injury claim seeking compensation for a back injury, there is a very small chance that a doctor will be able to adequately assess how much of the existing injury is due to the new accident and how much damage had already been present.
Dismissal will not always be the end result, even if a fraud upon the court is found to have occurred, but it is important to always have it in the back of your mind. If you have been previously injured in a similar manner or in a similar area of your body, it is generally a good idea to disclose it at the relevant time (to your insurance company and/or the court itself). If you do not disclose, it may be possible to credibly claim you do not remember, especially if the original injury occurred years ago – but more likely, nondisclosure will be taken as evidence of fraud and used accordingly.
Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Very few people ever intend to actually commit fraud, but sometimes inadvertent mistakes do happen. If you are concerned about possibly being untruthful or are unsure how to proceed on your personal injury claim, calling an attorney is a good idea. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are ready and willing to try and assist you with any questions you might have. Call us today for a free consultation.