Dallas Court Upholds Personal Injury Ruling
Earlier this year, the Dallas Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling on a motion for summary judgment stating that an underinsured person’s policy does not cover injuries sustained as a result of a physical assault by a passenger following an automobile collision. In Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Tyler, and all throughout Texas, judges rule on pretrial motions in personal injury, wrongful death, and car accident cases every day.
What Happens before a Trial?
In previous posts, we discussed different types of courts, the roles of plaintiffs and defendant, complaints, answers, counterclaims, and motions for default judgment and to dismiss.
After filing a motion to dismiss, the judge can either a) grant the motion in whole and dismiss the case entirely, b) deny the motion to dismiss in its entirety and proceed to the next steps in the trial, or c) grant the motion to dismiss in part and deny it in part and proceed to the next steps in the trial only on the remaining claims. The following scenario is an example of granting a motion to dismiss in part and denying it in part…
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Say that Tom sues his neighbor Mary for a) keeping her porch light on all night and b) hitting Tom with her car while she pulled out of driveway without looking. Mary files a motion to dismiss the entire case saying that even if all the facts that Tom claims are true that there is no legal recourse for him. The judge will likely grant Mary’s motion to dismiss regarding Tom’s claim that she keeps her porch light on because even if that is true, there is no legal recourse. The judge should deny Mary’s motion to dismiss regarding the car accident personal injury claim because if Mary did hit Tom with her car, then Tom has a legal recourse available. Thus, the case would move forward with respect to the car accident claim, but not the porch light issue.
If the case is not dismissed at that stage, one or both parties might file a motion for summary judgment. This is also referred to as a judgment as a matter of law. The mechanics of a motion for summary judgment are a little more complicated than even that of a motion to dismiss. A defendant files a motion for summary judgment when they way to say that even if these facts are viewed in a way most favorable to the party not filing for summary judgment, the plaintiff, the law states clearly that the plaintiff cannot win. Therefore, the judge should summarily dismiss (meaning, without a trial) the claims. It is difficult to know when summary judgment is appropriate and how to argue for summary judgment. It is difficult to make an argument countering a motion for summary judgment as well, especially if you are unfamiliar with the law.
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All of these pretrial procedures are common. It is therefore important that you do not attempt to represent yourself if you feel you have a legal claim. Without a competent and diligent attorney working for you, you risk violating a required pretrial procedure and losing a case you could win. If you feel that you have a legal claim in one of our practice areas, please contact us for a free consultation.
Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer at Brian Loncar Lyon Jenkins