Personal Injury Lawsuit Stages – Part 2
There are several stages in a personal injury lawsuit. When the complaint and answer have been timely filed and the parties have completed discovery, it’s time for trial, right? Not quite yet. It’s common practice to resolve a number of issues before the trial is scheduled, and for good reasons. First, based on the information obtained during discovery, either or both of the parties may be prepared to ask the court to issue some preliminary rulings. In addition, there may have been evidence presented at a deposition or in other discovery that will be inadmissible at trial, for any of a number of reasons. The court will want to resolve any evidentiary disputes before those matters are discussed in front of a jury, as it could be prejudicial to one of the parties to have a jury hear inappropriate evidence. Contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.
There are typically two types of motions during this phase of a personal injury action: dispositive motions and evidentiary motions:
- Dispositive motions—A dispositive motion seeks a final ruling, avoiding the need to address certain issues at trial. The dispositive motion may seek to throw out one or all of the injured party’s claims, or it may seek a “summary judgment” in the plaintiff’s favor. For example, if the defendants believe that the plaintiff has not produced evidence to demonstrate all the required elements of a claim, that can be the basis for a motion to dismiss that claim. On the other hand, if the plaintiff believes the defendants have not stated a valid defense, or that there are no factual disputes regarding the facts, the plaintiff may ask the court for an immediate ruling in his or her favor.
- Evidentiary motions—If the parties are aware of evidentiary disputes, it’s in their best interests to have those resolved before trial. Evidence that is inadmissible, but is only ruled so after a jury has heard it, may be the basis for a mistrial, if the court perceives that the party introducing the evidence knew it would not be admissible and knew it would be prejudicial.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, our personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560.