Taylor v. Biba – Technicalities in Car Accident Lawsuits

Any persons interested in filing a car accident lawsuit in Montgomery must know that a case can be won or lost – sometimes before it is ever gets its day in court – on the basis of legal technicalities.

There is so much to be considered, from the timing of the claim to how it is filed, to the details included in the filing. And even after the case is won, there are careful considerations that must be made if the defendant chooses to appeal.

This is what makes hiring an experienced and dedicated legal team such an important part of the process. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of any case, but you want to make very certain that any adverse outcome isn’t due to the oversight of some issue that was easily avoidable. You also want to make sure that if your adversary slips up, you have an attorney who knows the law well enough to catch it and raise the issue to your advantage.

The recent case of Taylor v. Biba demonstrates how important a technicality can be.

Recently reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Taylor case stems from an appellate court’s dismissal of a defendant’s appeal simply because he allegedly failed to file the paperwork properly.

According to court records, the two parties were involved in an auto accident and the plaintiff, Biba, suffered substantial injuries.

Biba sued Taylor as well as his employer (he’d been working at the time of the crash). Ultimately, a jury sided with the plaintiff, awarding her about $10,000. (The jury did, however, assign 10 percent comparative fault in the crash to the plaintiff, reducing the award down to $9,100).

The defendant appealed. In doing so, he filed a certified copy of the docket sheet with the county circuit court. Neither party disagrees with the fact that while the docket sheet was certified, it did not include an entry for Biba’s answer to counterclaim.

It was on this basis that Biba requested – and was granted – a motion to dismiss. According to district court rules in that state, certified docket sheets must strictly comply with all requirements.

The defendant attempted to argue that the intention of the law was substantial compliance, but the district court rejected this argument.

The defendant then appealed this ruling to the state supreme court. While the supreme court also agreed that the district court rules require strict compliance for all filings. However, the court looked closely at what was meant by “strict compliance,” and found that it meant essentially two things:

  1. The defendant had to obtain a certified copy of the docket sheet;
  2. The defendant had to file that certified docket in the circuit court.

The court found that the defendant did this. As such, he was in strict compliance with the law.

But he almost lost his case for not following all the requirements. This case reveals how easily a claim can be lost before its merits can even be debated.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a personal injury attorney today.

Additional Resources:
Taylor v. Biba, Jan. 24, 2014, Supreme Court of Arkansas
More Blog Entries:
Bell v. Dawson and Establishing Alabama Duty of Care, Dec. 26, 2013, Montgomery Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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