Over Before It Begins: Dispositive Motions and Your Personal-Injury Trial

If you have been the victim of another person's negligence, you may have decided to take the big step of filing suit against the person in question. While many cases can be resolved outside of court, when you and your personal-injury attorney have exhausted all trial alternatives, you may find yourself in a courtroom. You will notice, as your court case begins, that trials seldom move along in a predictable, smooth manner. At any time, you may see the judge order continuances and postponements for various reasons as well as frequent hearings for motions to be presented. A motion is filed with the court based on a particular request by either your attorney or the attorney for the other side, and the outcome of some motions can cause a case to come to an abrupt end. Read on to learn about dispositive motions.

Dispositive and Nondispositive Motions

Motions filed with the court that address minor issues and that seldom change the course of the trial in any manner are referred to as nondispositive motions. A dispositive motion, however, has the potential and power to put an immediate end to your case, if the judge approves it.

Motion to Dismiss

This type of motion takes several forms, but they often come (almost routinely) in the beginning stages of the personal-injury process. This motion asks the judge to take a look at the case and make an immediate ruling on it, often before the discovery process has even begun. In most cases, the defendant states one or more reasons that the case before the judge lacks merit and should therefore be "thrown out" or dismissed. For you, the plaintiff, this means that the other side is attempting to denigrate your case, or some aspect of it, and prevent the case from even being heard.

Common Reasons for a Motion to Dismiss 

Jurisdiction: This reason can apply to either personal jurisdiction or subject-matter jurisdiction. Personal-jurisdiction cases involve instances where the lawsuit was brought in the wrong state. For example, you had a car wreck in California, but you brought suit in Nevada. Even if you live in Nevada, that court has no jurisdiction. Subject-matter jurisdiction concerns cases being brought in the incorrect court. For example, instead of a civil court, your personal-injury case was filed in a probate court.

Venue: This reason looks at the particular location of the case, since every state has very specific guidelines about where in each state certain types of cases may be heard. Sometimes, instead of dismissing the case altogether, the judge orders the case moved to the correct venue. This often involves various levels of court rather than geographical location.

Improper summons: If the summons asking you and others to appear in court lacks the correct information, the case could be dismissed.

Lack of claim: With this reason, the defendant states that they had no responsibility for your injuries. In other words, you may be injured, but the defendant was not the cause.

Be sure to speak to your personal-injury attorney about these motions and more aspects of your upcoming trial.

About Me

The Internet Makes Learning about Law Easier than Ever

Unlike many children growing up today, I am old enough to remember what life was like before the internet became popular! Many years ago, I ended up in a messy legal situation that stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. It turned out that I actually did not break the law, and finding that out in court was a great relief! While I had a great lawyer who helped me during that time, reading some legal information for myself about the laws surrounding my incident could have greatly eased my worries during the stressful time. I have since dedicated myself to learning more about the law, so I never have to deal with a legal mess again. I thought I would make a blog to share some legal knowledge I have acquired along with some general legal tips. I hope I can help many people!



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