Estoppel Definition in a Personal Injury Case
An estoppel prevents you—or the defendant in your case—from claiming something that is contradictory to what you previously claimed or what a court has already proven. The other party in a case may request an estoppel because they have relied on previous testimony and court decisions to build their case. They made decisions based on these “facts” and acted accordingly. An estoppel prevents courts from having to rule on the same issues again and again.
How Is an Estoppel Used?
Most commonly, an estoppel occurs when there is more than one case based on the same event or accident. The courts require all parties to be consistent in the facts and claims they present during these cases. The judge will not allow you to change your position or your claims based on your needs in each case.
For example, imagine you suffered serious injuries because of a defective product. In a previous case with another victim, the manufacturer admitted their product was defective. We may need to use an estoppel to prevent them from denying the product was defective in your case.
In another example, there could be two unrelated cases that share a single fact. Imagine you previously took a neighbor to court about a structure they wanted to build too close to your property line. In that case, you had to prove your ownership of this land. Several years later, you cannot then deny you own that land to avoid paying out a premises liability claim. That is, unless, of course, you can show you sold that property between those dates.
How Can We Get an Estoppel in My Case?
If we realize we need to request an estoppel in your case, we can simply bring the inconsistency to the court’s attention and ask that they bar the defense from using this particular claim as a part of their case. If the judge agrees, they will find the line of reasoning estopped. This bars the defendant from using this angle and forces them to use some other defense or to agree to a settlement on your behalf.
For example, if you suffered serious injuries in a car accident a drunk driver caused, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to collect compensation to pay for your medical care. Imagine there was also another vehicle involved and their case has already gone before the court. In that case, the driver admitted to being drunk at the time of the crash. During your case, if this driver denies intoxication played a role in the accident, we can bring the previous trial to the court’s attention and most prevent them from continuing with this claim.
For Help With a Personal Injury Case, Contact Berger and Green Today.
At Berger and Green, we can help you understand how an estoppel may apply in your case or how we use it to bar the defense from making a false claim. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to schedule your free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in the Pittsburgh area.