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What Is Summary Judgment?

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Most civil cases go to trial because two parties disagree about the facts of a particular case. In a car accident case, for instance, the plaintiff may argue that the defendant was speeding at the time of a crash, while the defendant may deny such a claim. In some instances, however, certain facts may not be under dispute, in which case, a party can ask the court to decide the lawsuit’s outcome without actually going to trial. This is only an option when there are no material facts under dispute and in light of those facts, the petitioner believes that he or she is entitled to judgment under the law.

Summary Judgment Proceedings

When an accident victim files a personal injury lawsuit in court, his or her case won’t typically be resolved until the parties reach a settlement agreement out of court, or the jury decides whether or not to issue a damages award. There is, however, one other option, known as summary judgment, which is a procedural tool that parties can use to dismiss a lawsuit. When both parties agree on the facts of a case, or on what happened on the date in question, they can ask the court to move ahead with deciding the issue based on those specific facts. If summary judgment isn’t granted, then the parties would need to move forward with trying to establish the facts of the case by going to trial.

Filing a Summary Judgment Motion

In Florida, plaintiffs can’t file summary judgment motions until 20 days have passed since the filing of the complaint. Defendants, however, are not bound by the same restrictions, but can file a summary judgment motion at any time. These motions must provide details about the facts of the case and clarify all evidence that the petitioning party is relying on. It is up to the petitioning party to prove that there are no triable issues for the court to decide. A motion for summary judgment must be filed and served on the other party at least 20 days before the scheduled hearing date. Both parties can use depositions, interrogatories, and expert statements in support of or opposition to a summary judgment motion.

Granting or Denying a Motion for Summary Judgment

Once a judge has received a summary judgment motion and response, he or she will preside over a hearing, where both parties’ attorneys will present their arguments. Eventually, the judge will decide whether or not to grant the motion for summary judgment and can enter a judgment in favor of either party. If the petitioning party fails to meet his or her burden, then the court will proceed with the trial and deny the motion for summary judgment. If, on the other hand, the motion is granted, then the case will be dismissed. It’s also important to note that it is possible for an appeals court to reverse a trial court’s initial granting of summary judgment.

Schedule a Meeting with Our Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Going to trial isn’t always necessary in a personal injury case. To learn more about your other options, which could include filing a motion for summary judgment, feel free to reach out to the experienced Florida personal injury lawyers at Boone & Davis today.

Sources:

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/a-primer-on-floridas-new-summary-judgment-standard/

casetext.com/rule/florida-court-rules/florida-rules-of-civil-procedure/rules/rule-1510-summary-judgment

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