The term “frivolous lawsuit” gets thrown around a lot, especially as it relates to personal injury claims. Many members of the public don’t realize the high bar that most personal injury claims must clear before they’re heard in court—that is, the plaintiff has to present evidence that wrongdoing occurred and they were harmed as a result. Should the case be heard in court, they’ll need to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence.
We don’t hear as much about “frivolous defenses,” but they exist. Read on to learn what constitutes a frivolous defense and how it could affect your case.
What Makes a Lawsuit or Defense Frivolous?
Ohio Rev. Code Section 2323.51 governs frivolous conduct, lawsuits and defenses. Generally speaking, neither a plaintiff nor a defendant can file lawsuits, motions, mount defenses or otherwise conduct themselves in a way deemed “frivolous.”
“Frivolous” can mean several different things, according to the statute. For example, filing a lawsuit solely to harass someone is not allowed, nor can you allege contentions that have no support in law, fact or lack of information and belief. In short, anytime you’re in court, you’re required to operate from a good faith position—you have evidence or a good faith belief that what you’re claiming is true and supported by the law.
The Problem with Frivolous Defenses
When it comes to frivolous defenses, this issue could manifest in a few different ways. Specifically, Section 2323.51(A)(2)(i) prevents plaintiffs from filing suits solely to injure or harass another, or performing legal actions for “another improper purpose, including, but not limited to, causing unnecessary delay or a needless increase in the cost of litigation.”
What might that look like? In this federal Georgia case, a plaintiff was injured in a rear-end accident by a Krispy Kreme employee. Although Krispy Kreme admitted to the insurance company that their employee was completely at fault, they still argued in court that the plaintiff had some liability. In other words, they didn’t have a good faith belief in their comparative negligence defense. That’s a frivolous defense.
In other cases, the defense might file numerous discovery and other motions in an effort to drag out the proceedings and drive up the costs of litigation, hoping to get the plaintiff to settle. Ohio law specifically prohibits this conduct as well. Should your attorney believe you’ve been subject to a frivolous defense, “any party adversely affected by frivolous conduct may file a motion for an award of court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and other reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the civil action or appeal.”
Discuss Your Case with an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When you’ve been harmed due to someone else’s negligence, I’ll Make Them Pay!® You may be able to recover damages for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages and more. I can help. Call me today at 877.944.4373 for a consultation.