What is Summary Judgment?
When the facts of a personal injury case are not in dispute, the lawyer for that party will file a motion for summary judgment.
When all the parties agree on the facts, there is no need for a trial. However, it is unusual for all parties to agree. A factfinder decides what the actual facts consist of and how they apply to the law. Factfinders are either judges or juries. Although a motion for summary judgment is often filed to avoid a trial, it is also filed during a trial when one of the parties feels the other is not putting forth a valid case.
A New York City personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, especially when the facts of the case are not in dispute. Our seasoned attorneys have recovered more than $18 billion for clients in settlements and verdicts.
Parts of Summary Judgment
A summary judgment motion contains three parts. The first is a statement of the facts, as presented by the plaintiff. This document may include photos of the accident scene, reports from eyewitnesses, and other critical evidence.
The second part of the motion involves the law. The plaintiff’s lawyer will submit a memorandum referencing relevant statutes and cases and argue that the plaintiff should prevail in the claim under the law.
The third section anticipates the defendant’s arguments and states why these are not sufficient for the defendant to win the case.
Of course, the defendant’s lawyer can file the motion for summary judgment if they believe the plaintiff has no case. When a defendant does this successfully, the case is thrown out of court.
The Defendant’s Response
After the filing of the motion for summary judgment, the defendant’s attorney responds. They may argue that the law is not correct, as presented by the plaintiff’s attorney, and may provide evidence that there are other facts in the defendant’s favor. In other words, they must offer proof that there are critical facts in dispute.
Partial Summary Judgment
Motions are also filed for partial summary judgment, meaning they deal with only certain aspects of the claim. That is sometimes the case when there is no question that one party is liable, but the two parties cannot agree on a reasonable amount of damages. If the motion is granted, a trial may focus only on the damage award amounts.
The Judge Rules
After receiving and reviewing the defendant’s response, the judge makes a determination. The court may come down on the side of the plaintiff and grant the motion for summary judgment if the judge agrees with the attorney’s interpretation of the law or that the defendant’s version of the facts still entitles the plaintiff to win.
The court could side with the defendant and deny the motion for summary judgment. Under these circumstances, the judge decides that there are questions of facts requiring a trial.
Trials are costly. The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are settled. Filing a motion for summary judgment may eliminate the costs of a trial and the associated processes.
This may include discovery, in which the other side views all of the evidence. Before discovery, an attorney may file a motion for summary judgment stating there are no material factual issues in the case. Therefore, there is no point in conducting a trial.
Weeding Out Cases
It is no secret that the New York City civil court system is backlogged and trials and the resolution of personal injury cases can take a long time. By reviewing motions for summary judgment, the court can weed out those cases which do not belong in front of a jury. This helps make the overall court process somewhat more efficient.
Contact us at Douglas and London for a free consultation
If you or someone you know were injured due to another party’s negligence or recklessness and the facts are not disputed by the responsible party, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London. Submit our online contact form or call or text us 24/7 to schedule a free consultation.
We will evaluate your claim and advise you on what to do going forward. There is never a fee unless you receive compensation, as we work on a contingency basis. Hablamos Español.