So you’ve filed your personal injury lawsuit, you’ve had your initial conference with the judge and you’ve completed discovery. There are still several steps to complete before a trial can begin.
The Motion Phase of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Trials can be expensive and time-consuming, so there’s an incentive on everyone’s part to resolve as many issues as possible prior to opening arguments. One of the ways that a court can streamline the trial process, or avoid it entirely, is through pretrial motions. There are two specific types of pretrial motions — dispositive motions and evidentiary motions.
A dispositive motion seeks to preclude the need to resolve some or all of the issues being contested. Such a motion may be filed by the plaintiff (party bringing the lawsuit) or by the defendant. When the plaintiff files a dispositive motion, it’s essentially arguing that the discovery process has produced no evidence to support a viable defense. If the court agrees, the court may issue summary judgment (immediate relief) in favor of the plaintiff.
The defendant can also move to dismiss some or all of the allegations in a complaint. Similarly, the defendant will attempt to show the court that the plaintiff has failed to produce evidence to support a claim. The court may dismiss some claims and allow others to go forward.
During the discovery process, the rules of evidence are not as rigorously enforced. This is because there’s no possibility of unfairly affecting a jury’s decision with inadmissible evidence, since jurors are not present. However, evidence that may be disclosed during discovery may not be admissible in court—it may be opinion, it may be hearsay, it may be speculation. If that evidence is heard by jurors, it can taint the outcome. Accordingly, the court wants to make determinations of admissibility before trial, so that the rulings aren’t made in the presence of the jury.
Contact the law offices of Gregg A. Wisotsky, Esq., Partner, Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, PC.
We offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact our office online or call us at 973-898-0161. We will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.