How a Personal Injury Lawsuit Moves Forward, Part Two
In a prior blog, we talked about the initial steps in a personal injury lawsuit—the filing of a complaint and answer, and the discovery period. Once discovery is complete, there is still much to be done before a case can actually go to trial. The next phase customarily involves a variety of pre-trial motions by both sides. A motion is essentially a written request that the court rule on an issue of law. In most instances, when a motion is filed, the court will schedule a hearing to entertain oral arguments by attorneys for all parties.
There are generally two types of pre-trial motions—dispositive motions and evidentiary motions:
- Dispositive motions—A dispositive motion seeks to either throw out certain claims or resolve the entire lawsuit. A defendant may allege that the evidence produced during the discovery period is insufficient, and that the plaintiff has failed to provide facts by which a jury could find liability. The defendant may ask the court to throw out certain claims or may file a motion to dismiss the entire lawsuit. On the other hand, the plaintiff may ask for summary judgment, a ruling by the court that the defendant has either failed to state a valid defense, or that there are no material facts in dispute.
- Evidentiary motions—In a deposition, witnesses are under oath, but there’s no judge present to determine whether answers to questions asked are admissible under the rules of evidence. Typically, a party will answer the question, but attorneys will state their objection on the record. Those objections are then dealt with in separate motions before the case goes to trial, so that the jury is not exposed to evidence that may ultimately be ruled inadmissible. Evidentiary motions may also address any exhibits or physical evidence that either party wants to introduce at trial.
Once pre-trial motions have been argued, there are still a couple things that typically happen before opening statements are made. To learn more, see our blog on What to Expect During a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Part Three.
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For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 973-993-8787. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.
We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.