Summary Judgement

Summary Judgment in Florida Personal Injury Claims

A motion for summary judgment is a tool that is designed to kick cases or parts of cases, out of court that have proven during litigation to have no merit—or not enough evidence to meet any burden of proof. Technically, a judge should grant summary judgment if, given the facts that are not in dispute, there is no way a jury could reasonably find in favor of the plaintiff. This solution will typically apply when the plaintiff either does not have enough facts to prove his or her case or is relying solely on a legal theory that the judge decides is invalid. For instance, suppose that the plaintiff’s attorney and defendant’s attorney agree that the accident was the fault of the defendant; that the plaintiff suffered a broken wrist which completely healed; on the amount of the resulting medical bills; and how much the plaintiff should receive for pain and suffering resulting from the broken wrist. However, the plaintiff also claims that he suffered and continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and cannot work as a result. The defendant does not believe that the plaintiff suffers from this ailment. Suppose further that the plaintiff is unable to find a doctor who is willing to testify that the plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident. The testimony of a doctor is typically necessary in order to  proceed to a jury with a claim that the plaintiff suffers from a disorder and that it was caused by the accident; this plaintiff is unable to produce a doctor to so testify. Thus, the defendant would be entitled to summary judgment on that issue. The plaintiff and his lawyer would not be allowed to argue to the jury that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident. Similarly, if the plaintiff has not had evidence to cover all required elements of a claim—or has evidence of all elements but not enough that a reasonable jury could find in the plaintiff’s favor— then the judge will grant summary judgment on any such claims. In many jurisdictions, the guidelines for issuing summary judgments are vague and essentially left up to the discretion of the judge. Second, let us look at an example of summary judgment based on an invalid legal theory. Suppose the plaintiff was hit by a drunk driver and sues a passenger in the drunk driver’s car because she gave alcohol to the driver. Suppose further that both the plaintiff and defendant agree on those facts—and that the plaintiff’s only legal theory of liability against the defendant passenger is that she had a duty to refrain from giving alcohol to the driver and was negligent for failing that duty. If the judge rules that under the applicable law that the defendant did not have a duty to refrain from giving alcohol to the driver, the judge will grant summary judgment and kick the whole case against the passenger out of court.

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You should not necessarily be concerned if the defendant files a motion to have your personal injury case or part of it, kicked out of court. Summary judgment motions are commonly filed— and commonly denied. Defense attorneys often file motions for summary judgment just in case the judge is cynical about your claims…or because they get paid by the hour and can bill for the time spent preparing the motion. On the other hand, remember that just because something is true does not mean that you can come up with evidence to prove it. So, if a summary judgment motion is filed in your case, take it seriously—but do not immediately assume the worst. For over 19 years, Suarez & Montero has been assisting injury victims in South Florida. If you’ve been hurt in any type of accident in South Florida, we may be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. At Suarez & Montero, our personal injury attorneys have a steady record of helping injury victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries and we can help you too! We encourage you to get in touch with Suarez & Montero today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. Our Law Firm’s history of extraordinary representation and success in personal injury cases and claims has earned us great praise from former injury clients, as well as high reviews on Google! For over 19 years, we have delivered quality legal representation for people who have been injured in all types of accidents across South Florida. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation. Contact one of our car accidents lawyers today for a free no risk consultation!

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