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Inman v. Boykin: Car Accident Lawsuits and the Statute of Limitations.

Inman v. Boykin, an appeal heard in the Supreme Court of Wyoming, involved a driver of a rental car who was allegedly driving in a negligent manner and crashed into another vehicle.

crashedcar.jpgThe first issue that arose is that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit against the both the driver and the rental car company. As your Boston car accident lawyer can explain, there is often an issue as to who is a proper party to the action in the case of a rental van or truck. There tend to be a lot of accidents in rental moving trucks because drivers are not properly trained and generally lack experience driving such large vehicles.

In Inman, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit against both defendants but did not immediately serve the either party. The plaintiff was having difficulty serving the defendants and moved for additional time for service. The trial court granted the plaintiff an additional 120 days to serve the plaintiff, based upon excusable neglect.

The plaintiff eventually served the defendant with an out-of-state summons form that was not properly authorized by the clerk of court. The defendant moved to dismiss on grounds that service was improper and that the plaintiff was time-barred from filing a civil lawsuit. The plaintiff filed a reply, but the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case with prejudice.

The court stated that service was not made within the four-year statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit and was not saved by the 60-day relation back statute. A relation back statute provides that, if a lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations, an additional time can be provided for the plaintiff to make amendments to the complaint to add additional defendants. The plaintiff acknowledged that service was not made within the statute of limitations or the 60-day look back period. It should be noted that, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for filing a negligence action is three years.

The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss on grounds that service was accomplished within the 120-day extension period granted by the trial. The defendant, however, argued that the trial court had absolutely no authority to grant such an extension in the first place.

On appeal, the court agreed that he trial court judge had no discretion or authority to grant any extension to the time to serve the defendants with the initial complaint.

The statute of limitations must be closely monitored prior to filing a negligence action. If you do not file your complaint within the time allowed, it may serve as a total bar to any financial recovery. The best thing you can do to avoid having any problems related to the statute of limitations is to contact an attorney as soon as possible, so that there is no need for a last-minute rush to file a negligence action.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Inman v. Boykin, July 29, 2014, Wyoming Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Packard v. Falls City Area Jaycees, et al.: Motions to Dismiss in Car Accident Litigation, July 29, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyers Blog