Last month, an appellate court in South Dakota issued a written opinion in a car accident case that will be of interest to Maryland car accident victims considering filing a personal injury case seeking compensation for their injuries. The case illustrates the procedural mechanism of summary judgment and when it is appropriate in personal injury cases. In this case, since the evidence presented gave rise to a material fact that needed to be resolved by the jury, the appellate court determined that the lower court was proper to deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.
Summary judgment is a motion that can be filed by either a plaintiff or a defendant, seeking early judgment in that party’s favor based on the other parties’ inability to legally succeed. Commonly, summary judgment motions are filed by defendants in Maryland car accident cases, arguing that there is some defect in the plaintiff’s case, such that, even if all of the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s case will still fail.
In order to survive a summary judgment challenge, a party must establish that there is some factual question in the case that needs resolution. If that is the case, the court will deny the motion for summary judgment and submit the case to a jury. However, if the parties essentially agree on the facts and are arguing only over the application of the law, the judge can make the determination.