How to Go About Getting Court Permission to Edit Your California Injury Accident Complaint to Correct a Date Error

In an injury case, small details can make big differences. A complaint that alleges that you suffered harm as a result of an accident that took place in a particular month could potentially end in total defeat if your opponent can show that no such accident ever took place when you said it did, even if the error was just a typo. If you make a mistake regarding a date in your complaint, there may be ways to correct it. It is vital to understand how these procedures work and follow them properly to make the corrections you need, which is why it pays to have an experienced California injury attorney on your side who is knowledgeable in the law and procedural processes.

The case of a man named G.M. was an example of this kind of scenario. One day in 2013, G.M.’s boss ordered him to clear space on a top shelf to make room for certain hot-air balloon equipment. G.M.’s boss specifically ordered him to stand on a pallet while the boss used a forklift to raise the pallet (with G.M. atop it) up to the top shelf to allow the employee to clear the space. Unfortunately, this didn’t end well for G.M. He suffered a 12-foot fall in the attempt, which resulted in a broken foot.

G.M. sued for his personal injuries. In his complaint, the employee alleged that the accident took place on August 5, 2013. The case went to trial. At trial, G.M. encountered a problem. Various pieces of evidence, including a doctor’s report, indicated that the accident took place on October 5, 2013, not August 5, 2013. At the trial, G.M. acknowledged that the doctor’s report refreshed his memory and that the accident did occur in October, not August,

The trial judge allowed the injured man, after he had presented his case-in-chief, to edit his complaint to state that the accident occurred on October 5, not August 5. G.M.’s attorney was able to persuade the court that the error was just a typographical error and that G.M.’s earlier statements placing the event in August were the result of G.M. being confused.

There are certain things that you’ll likely have to show in order to succeed in receiving permission to make such a change. For example, if making the change would substantially prejudice the defendant (meaning that it would significantly hamper the defendant’s ability to defend itself), then the court may very likely deny the request for making such a change. Also, if allowing the change would impair some other right of the defendant, then the request for the change may be denied.

In this case, G.M. had proof that no such prejudice or other harm existed. The trial judge specifically found that both sides’ attorneys had been using the October date “as far as preparing [for trial] and such”; and that “overwhelming evidence” showed the accident occurred on October 5. The appeals court upheld that ruling, pointing out that the evidence showed that the defense was well aware before the trial began that the accident happened in October, not August. The defendant’s own “defense evidence only served to underscore that the accident occurred on October 5.” With so much evidence showing that the change didn’t harm the defense case in any way, allowing the change was appropriate.

If you’ve suffered injuries in an accident, reach out to the diligent San Mateo personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured people utilize the legal system for many years to get the compensation they need and deserve. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

What’s ‘Judicial Notice,’ and What Impact Can it Have on My California Auto Accident Case?, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 14, 2018

Obtaining a Fair — and Complete — Settlement Agreement in Your California Personal Injury Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 6, 2018