A motion for summary judgment is a procedural device that allows a court to resolve a case without a full trial when there is no “genuine issue of material fact” to be decided. If the court comes to that conclusion, the party bringing the motion is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Such motions are occasionally filed in New Orleans personal injury lawsuits. The filing of such a motion means that one of the parties believes that there are facts in their favor that are beyond dispute. A motion for summary judgment may be made by either the plaintiff or the defense.
In legal terms, a fact is “material” in a personal injury lawsuit when it is essential to the plaintiff’s theory of recovery. When there is a “genuine issue of material fact,” it means that reasonable people could disagree about the material fact being considered. In such cases, a determination of such a fact is properly left to the jury or judge at trial.
Occasionally, however, a case will involve a material fact about which, based on the evidence, only one conclusion could be drawn. When a party believes this is the case, they may file a motion for summary judgment requesting that a ruling be made without the need for trial.
When making this motion, the initial burden is on the party making it to show that based on the evidence available, no genuine issue of material fact exists. If the moving party is able to do so, the burden then shifts to the other party to present evidence showing that an issue does actually exist. If the other party is unable to do so, the court will grant the motion.
In personal injury lawsuits, it is unusual for issues of negligence to be decided by summary judgment. In cases where reasonable people could not possibly differ, however, it can occur.
If you have suffered an injury due to another’s negligence and have any questions, we would be happy to help you. Please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.