Lawsuits can be dismissed for any number of reasons, either by the court or by the individuals who file them. The term “without prejudice” means that when your case is dismissed, you reserve the right to file it again later, even if your new suit deals with the exact same claim or issue. If you dismiss your lawsuit "with prejudice," you’re barred from ever bringing the matter to the court’s attention again, so if you’re considering dismissing your case, speak with a legal professional first.
Reasons for Dismissal Without Prejudice
You might want to dismiss your divorce case if you and your spouse have reconciled. If you do so without prejudice, you can file again later if the reconciliation doesn’t work out. If you dismiss a small claims suit or personal injury negligence case because you’ve settled with the other party, you can’t do so without prejudice if the court has already issued an order approving terms of settlement agreement. When the court dismisses a case without prejudice, it’s usually because the plaintiff -- the person who filed the lawsuit -- violated procedural rules in some way. The judge will allow him to file the same case again so he can do it correctly the next time.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.