Even an experienced personal injury attorney cannot always settle personal injury claims without the need for litigation—at least for what the victim is entitled to. If you were hurt in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, you may have to file a lawsuit as part of your fight to obtain the compensation that you deserve. Pre-trial motions can play an important role in the resolution of your case.
Pre-Trial Motions That May Be Filed in Your Personal Injury Case
A pre-trial motion is a legal document filed in your civil lawsuit that asks the judge to make a certain decision in your case for a specific legal reason. There are two types of pre-trial motions in civil cases: dispositive and non-dispositive motions. Dispositive motions are ones that can resolve a case while non-dispositive motions resolve specific issues or problems in the case. Common motions that may be filed in your civil lawsuit include:
- Motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss asks the judge to dismiss your lawsuit against the negligent party and is often based on legal deficiencies. For example, if there is no legal basis for your claim, the opposing party may ask that your complaint be dismissed. If the statute of limitations to sue has expired, this may be another reason that this motion would be granted. Other reasons motions to dismiss are granted include the complaint being filed in the wrong court or the negligent party not being properly served with the complaint.
- Motion for summary judgment. When the facts are not disputed, a party may file a motion for summary judgment arguing that they should win the case based on the law. For example, if there was compelling evidence of the other party’s negligence, your attorney may file a motion for summary judgment asking that the judge find the party was negligent. Then the only dispute would be about the amount of compensation that you should receive.
- Motion to compel. There will be a long period in your case where the attorneys are engaging in discovery, where the parties send each other questions to answer, and requests for production of documents. When a party is uncooperative and fails to produce the requested documents, your attorney may need to file a motion to compel them to do so through an order issued by the judge.
- Motion to exclude experts. In personal injury cases, experts can help prove or disprove the at-fault party’s negligence, your injuries, and the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to. Experts must be qualified based on their education, training, and work history. In some cases, your attorney or the lawyer for the negligent party may file a motion to exclude a specific expert, arguing that he is not qualified to issue an opinion in your case.
- Motion in limine. A motion in limine asks the judge to exclude certain evidence from being used when filing a motion or at trial. The basis of the motion is often that the evidence is more prejudicial than worthwhile.
- Motion for default judgment. If the negligent party fails to file an answer to the complaint by the time limit set by the court, your attorney may file a motion for a default judgment asking the judge to award you the compensation that you are requesting in the lawsuit.
What Happens After a Pre-Trial Motion Is Filed?
Once an attorney files a pre-trial motion, the court clerk will schedule a hearing with the judge. At the hearing, both the attorney who filed the motion and the other attorneys in the case will be present. You may or may not need to attend the motion hearing. The attorneys will present a short oral argument to the judge as to why the judge should rule in their favor. The judge will either make a decision at the hearing or will send out a written decision at a later date.
Do you need to pursue a personal injury claim for injuries caused by a car wreck, slip and fall, or other accident? Our experienced personal injury attorneys can explain how these claims work and how we can assist you in fighting for the compensation that you deserve. Call our Fairfax office today to schedule your free consultation.