Summary Judgment Can End Your Injury Case Before It Gets To Trial
If you can’t settle your personal injury case, and you have to go to trial, you will have a neutral jury hear your case, and decide whether you should recover compensation and if so, how much. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work. In fact, there is no guarantee that your case will ever get to a jury, because it could be kicked out of court—dismissed—even before your trial.
Why Summary Judgment?
This is possible because of a rule called the summary judgment rule. The summary judgment rule allows a judge to look at a case, evaluate what evidence will be presented if a trial were to happen, and, if the judge believes that the evidence weighs so heavily in favor of one side or the other, the judge can end the case, even before trial.
Before understanding the rule, it may help to understand why the rule exists. Courts are busy, and they generally have no control over what is filed. Good cases are filed, but often, bad cases, with no merit, and no evidence to support them are filed.
Additionally, sometimes defendants assert good, solid defenses, but sometimes they assert defenses that have absolutely no way of prevailing.
So, to clear court dockets and make sure only the most disputed cases get heard by juries, the law allows a judge to say “there’s nothing here for a jury to decide, the evidence is so one-sided,” and end the case before trial. This frees juries to hear other cases, where both sides do have enough evidence for a jury to decide one way or the other.
What Cases Get Ended?
The judge can end the case in favor of the victim, if the judge believes that there are no real defenses to the case. Alternatively, the judge can also end the case in favor of the Defendant, leaving the victim with nothing, iof the judge feels like the claim being made by the victim has no merit, is not legally supportable, or if there just wouldn’t be enough evidence to support the claim in trial, if the case moved forward.
Be Diligent To Avoid Summary Judgment
Because the judge will determine a summary judgment based on the evidence the parties have gathered, it is important to gather as much evidence in your case, as quickly as possible, so that if the Defendant does ask for summary judgment, you are prepared to say “my case should go to trial, here is the evidence I have gathered to support my claim.”
This is done simply by diligence—getting the documents needed, and taking the depositions needed, and often, hiring the experts needed to give the opinions the judge will look at in making his or her decision. Sitting on cases—not doing anything after they are filed—if a certain way to get a case kicked out on summary judgment.
Call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas Nunez Sanders Butler & Hovsepian today to make sure that your injury case is handled the correct way. Schedule a consultation today.