Summary Judgment Can Prevent You From Ever Seeing A Jury In Your Case
If you file a lawsuit in your case, you probably expect that if you want to do so, you would have the right to take your case all the way to trial, to be heard by a jury of your peers. But that’s not always the case. That’s because of something in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, called a summary judgment.
A summary judgment can end a case, permanently, before you even get to present your evidence or have it be heard by a jury. A summary judgment, if entered, is a final judgment. There is no further trial, if the summary judgment is entered.
Why Summary Judgment?
It is often said that anybody can sue for anything, and that’s somewhat true—there is nobody to tell you that you can’t file a lawsuit no matter how much merit or lack thereof, the lawsuit may have. You may not win, but you can file whatever you want.
But just because you can file any lawsuit you want, doesn’t mean that you can take that lawsuit all the way to trial. Sometimes, there is simply no evidence that supports your case—or conversely, no evidence that the Defendant has, to refute, dispute, or disprove your case.
Moving for Summary Judgment
When it looks like the evidence is so overwhelmingly in one party’s favor that no reasonable jury could ever find otherwise, the law allows that party to ask the judge to end the case, without going to a full blown trial. The moving party is basically saying “it’s so obvious I am going to win, no reasonable jury could find for the other side, so let’s cut this short and enter a judgment now.”
Showing What You Have
How does the judge know what evidence you have or what evidence the other side doesn’t have? The summary judgment rule allows each side to proffer to the judge the evidence that the party would have or would show to the jury, hypothetically, if the case got all the way to a trial.
This is done by presenting evidence informally, or presenting affidavits or depositions. The parties will submit this information to the judge to argue that the case should be immediately ended (or that it should not be immediately ended, if you are the party defending against the summary judgment).
Gather Than Evidence
Of course, to present that evidence to the judge in favor of, or opposing, the summary judgment motion, you have to have it.
That means that the parties have to be diligent in gathering evidence. Lawyers who sit on cases, and don’t gather evidence or take depositions, often find themselves with no evidence to show the judge in a summary judgment motion. That can lead to an otherwise winnable case, being thrown out on summary judgment, just because the lawyer wasn’t proactive in getting the evidence he or she needed, as diligently as possible.
Contact the Miami accident and injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today to ensure that your case is handled efficiently, professionally, and proactively.