A frivolous lawsuit is a lawsuit which is filed with the intent to harass, annoy, or disturb the opposite party. A frivolous lawsuit may also be defined as a lawsuit in which a plaintiff knows that there is little to no chance of the lawsuit being successful if it was pursued in court.
Each year, there are many frivolous lawsuits which are filed under personal injury laws. These types of lawsuits may lead to a waste of both time and money for the private individuals as well as the courts.
The practice of filing a frivolous lawsuit is known as frivolous litigation. A frivolous lawsuit dispute may commonly arise in the context of a personal injury case.
Frivolous lawsuits include legal actions which are filed but do not have a good chance at being successful in a trial in court. In some instances, a frivolous lawsuit can simply be filed for the purpose of annoying or harassing the other party.
In other types of situations, a frivolous lawsuit may be filed in order to stall or delay another legal action. A frivolous lawsuit is often immediately dismissed by a court before the court can even examine the merits of the claim.
A frivolous lawsuit, or frivolous litigation, may include claims which are:
- Obviously untrue; or
Frivolous lawsuits can also involve claims which involve a request for an exaggerated or over-inflated amount of monetary damages award.
Why are Frivolous Lawsuits Filed?
Examples of frivolous lawsuit cases may include lawsuits where an individual files false product liability claims against companies. Defending these types of lawsuits may cause a company to expend a tremendous amount of waste.
This is because the company will be required to conduct an investigation into the claims in the lawsuit and report their findings. A frivolous lawsuit is often filed for a petty reason, such as the individual being unsatisfied with a product or an individual holding a personal grudge against another individual.
Another reason why a frivolous lawsuit may be filed is to delay a different or another type of legal proceeding. For example, certain real estate actions cannot proceed if the individual is involved in a lawsuit at the time.
Therefore, an individual may file a frivolous lawsuit for the simple purpose of delaying an upcoming real estate proceeding. There are also other common types of frivolous lawsuits, including harassment lawsuits and false sexual harassment claims.
What are Some Examples of Frivolous Lawsuit Disputes?
There are several different types of frivolous lawsuit dispute examples, including:
- Filing a false, or untrue, claim regarding automobile insurance;
- Filing a request for an unreasonable amount of damages in a medical malpractice claim;
- Attempting to sue an insurance company for a claim that has no basis in the law; and
- Suing an individual for the sole purpose of harassing them.
Essentially, at any time there is a lawsuit which is filed with the knowledge that it will likely not succeed in court, there is always a possibility that a court will dismiss the lawsuit as being frivolous. In addition, a frivolous lawsuit may result in various legal penalties from the individual who files the claim.
Are There Any Consequences for Filing a Frivolous Lawsuit?
Yes, there may be consequences for filing a frivolous lawsuit. In most cases, filing a frivolous lawsuit is typically looked down upon by a court.
In many instances, if an individual files a frivolous lawsuit, it may lead to a civil fine of a certain amount of money, sometimes in the thousands of dollars. Filing a frivolous lawsuit may also lead to an individual receiving a contempt order.
Common consequences for filing frivolous lawsuits may include:
- Charges of contempt of court;
- Monetary fines; and
- Criminal charges.
There may also be other consequences depending on the laws of the state. If there is a serious case or an individual makes repeat filings, there may be criminal consequences for the individual. If the court determines a lawsuit is frivolous, the court will typically dismiss the lawsuit immediately without examining the claims in further detail or investigating any of the evidence.
Abusing the legal system is a very serious matter which is not treated lightly. Therefore, an individual should only file a lawsuit if they have come to a degree of certainty that their claim has merit and is likely to succeed.
In addition, a lawsuit should never be filed for an individual’s personal reasons or to get revenge on a certain individual or corporation. A lawyer who engages in consistent frivolous lawsuit filings can also face consequences, including:
- Citations; and
- A suspension or revocation of their state bar license.
There is a common misconception that attorneys benefit from filing frivolous lawsuits. It is important to be aware, however, that, especially in personal injury cases, attorneys often do not get paid unless they obtain a favorable verdict for their clients.
Because of this, attorneys have to be selective in which cases they take on because they are aware they will not get paid unless the case is successful. Attorneys simply cannot afford to take on cases that they do not believe they can win.
In addition to this issue, an attorney who represents an injured party has to pay up front costs for the case, often investing their own money. For a smaller case, this may only be a few hundred dollars.
However, for a complex medical malpractice case, the expenses involved in pursuing a claim may exceed $100,000. The personal injury attorney has to pay for these expenses and will only be reimbursed if they win.
Attorneys and law firms are similar to other small businesses in that they must be profitable or they will go out of business. Similar to small businesses, they cannot afford to take unnecessary financial risks. In other words, business dictates that attorneys cannot afford to pursue frivolous lawsuits.
What are Some Legal Penalties for Filing a Frivolous Lawsuit?
Typically, the legal consequences for filing a frivolous lawsuit will involve some type of monetary fine. The amount of the fine which is used as a penalty for the frivolous lawsuit may vary depending upon the claim involved and the jurisdiction, or location, of the case.
In addition, some courts may issue a contempt order if a claim is substantially wasteful of judicial resources. In certain cases, there may be criminal consequences as well.
Criminal consequences may occur if an individual is harassing another individual through filing multiple frivolous lawsuits. In general, the result for the majority of frivolous lawsuits is that the lawsuit will be dismissed very quickly without any further examination of the matters involved.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Frivolous Lawsuit Issues?
It is essential to have the assistance of a personal injury lawyer for any frivolous lawsuit issues you may be facing. If you believe an individual has filed a frivolous lawsuit against you, hiring a lawyer will be helpful so they can provide advice and representation.
Your lawyer will be able to determine whether the claim is, in fact, frivolous. Your lawyer can also advise you how to respond to the claim.
Your attorney will also be able to represent you in court and explain to the judge why the claim is frivolous. These types of lawsuits can be very time consuming and use the limited resources which are already drained in today’s justice system.