Resolving a Case Pre-Trial

When a personal injury case is heading to trial, it often gets intercepted by one or more court motions. Court motions are essentially requests made by either side to the court asking for a resolution pre-trial.

If the court approves the request, it could terminate the litigation and end the dispute. When this occurs, it is known as a "dispositive motion." Or, if the court’s ruling is based on an incidental question that arises during the litigation, this is called a "non-dispositive motion." Here, our personal injury attorney in Shallotte NC explains the motions often requested to resolve the case pre-trial.

Motion to Dismiss the Case

A motion to dismiss is commonly filed by the defense in the very early stages of the litigation when the defendant believes that the complaint is legally invalid. It is usually filed before the parties have even conducted discovery. The result of this motion is based on the material presented in the complaint and any exhibits to the complaint. When a motion to dismiss is filed, the court must view the facts of the case in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

A motion to dismiss is usually filed based on one or more of the following five deficiencies:

  1. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction: This motion is filed when it is believed that the court doesn't have the power to rule on the controversy.
  2. Lack of Personal Jurisdiction: This motion is filed when it is believed the court does not have power to make decisions affecting the defendant personally because it lacks jurisdiction in the case.
  3. Improper Trial Venue: This motion is filed when it is believed that the venue may be legally improper to try the case, even if the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. In most cases, if proved successful, the case won’t be resolve pre-trial, but rather, the trial would be moved to another venue.
  4. Insufficient Service of Process: This is a motion requesting that the case be dismissed due to a technical defect in the summons or if the defendant wasn’t properly served with the summons and complaint.
  5. Failure to State a Claim: This motion is filed when the defendant’s lawyer concludes that the facts recorded in the complaint do not state a legal claim for relief.

Sua Sponte Dismissal

The term "sua sponte" is a legal term that means "of one's accord." This is a motion for dismissal that’s not requested by either side, but instead issued by the court. A sua sponte dismissal is usually issued if the judge determines that there are problems with the trial. An example of this is when a judge dismisses a case after determining that the court lacks jurisdiction.

Motion for Default Judgment

In cases where the defendant fails to answer the complaint or file a motion to dismiss within the time limit set forth in the summons, the defendant is considered "in default." When this happens, the plaintiff has the opportunity to ask the court clerk to make an "entry of default." An entry of default essentially means that because the defendant failed to appear, he or she will forfeit their right to argue liability. This results with the only question being how much the plaintiff should receive in damages. After the ruling, the court will send the defendant a notice stating that default judgment has been entered against him or her.

Summary Judgment Motion

If the key facts of the case are not disputed, then a summary judgment can be entered for one of the parties before the trial begins. This resolves the case early because the facts are not in dispute, therefore it is determined that there is no need for a trial.

If a request for a summary judgment is filed, then it is the responsibility of the other party to provide the court with evidence that would be permitted at trial that indicates that the key facts are disputable. If the dispute is successful, the court will not enter judgment and instead send the case to trial.

Need Legal Help? Call Bain & Rodzik Today

If you were recently involved in an accident caused by another’s negligence, Bain & Rodzik’s personal injury attorneys in Shallotte NC can help. We will review your case and let you know whether or not you have a valid claim. If you do, our experienced lawyers will fight rigorously on your behalf until the best possible outcome for your case is reached.

Timing is important in personal injury cases. The sooner you meet with one of our attorneys, the stronger your case will be and the strength of your case is imperative to its success. To get started, contact Bain & Rodzik today at 910-762-1199 to schedule a free initial consultation. With Bain & Rodzik, you don’t pay unless we win your case.