One of the most important phases in a Maryland personal injury case is the summary judgment stage. Summary judgment is a procedural mechanism by which a party can file a motion asking the court to enter judgment in the party’s favor without empaneling a jury. One of the reasons why summary judgment is so important is because most cases are settled after the summary judgment stage.
If a plaintiff is able to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment, defendants may not want to risk being found liable after a jury trial, and will offer to settle the case. At the same time, even if a plaintiff is successful in overcoming the summary judgment motion, they too may not want to risk the uncertainty of a jury trial.
In Maryland, summary judgment is only appropriate when there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the [moving] party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The summary judgment analysis can be broken down into two parts. First, that all material facts are undisputed. And second, when the court applies the law to the un-controverted facts, the law requires judgment to be entered in the moving party’s favor. A recent case illustrates how courts conduct summary judgment analysis.
The Facts of the Case
The accident giving rise to the case occurred when the defendant struck the plaintiff, a pedestrian, with his vehicle. The plaintiff testified that he was jogging along the road as the defendant approached him from behind. As the defendant approached the plaintiff, he crossed over a double-yellow line in an attempt to pass the plaintiff. However, before the defendant could successfully overtake the plaintiff, the defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant ran a red light just before hitting him. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.
Not surprisingly, the defendant offered a very different version of the accident. The defendant claimed that he was in the process of passing the plaintiff when the plaintiff darted out into traffic, striking his car. In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the defendant argued that he was entitled to summary judgment, in part because the plaintiff was jogging in the middle of the road.
The court rejected the defendant’s argument, allowing the plaintiff’s case to proceed towards trial. The court explained that, to defeat the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff need only show the existence of a material issue. Here, the court held that the plaintiff’s testimony that the defendant ran a red light and crossed a double-yellow line in an attempt to pass him was sufficient to meet each element of the plaintiff’s claim. Thus, although the defendant offered contradictory testimony, that merely gave rise to a material issue that should be resolved by a jury. Thus, the court ordered that the plaintiff’s case be permitted to proceed towards trial.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we have extensive experience handling all types of Maryland car accident cases, including those involving hotly contested issues. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today. There is no obligation to continue with your case unless it is your desire to do so.