Movies and television may have people believe that most civil lawsuits end in a dramatic trial. While this does sometimes happen, most Maryland personal injury lawsuits actually do not make it this far. Sometimes the parties settle with each other prior to trial, or sometimes a judge will find that there is no need to go to trial because one party cannot win. Many cases are decided at what is called “summary judgment.” Before trial, both parties can file a motion for summary judgment, which is basically asking a judge to rule in their favor. Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact, such that there is nothing for a jury to decide and a trial is inappropriate.
For an illustration of how summary judgment can work, take a recent state appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the accident occurred while the plaintiff was cleaning out her daughter’s car in a cleaning area of their apartment complex. As the plaintiff stepped from the paved parking lot up to a landscaped area that had a car vacuum, she slipped and fell backward, resulting in substantial injuries. The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the apartment complex, alleging that she had slipped on a foreign substance. During her deposition for the case, she testified that she did not know what caused her to fall, and that there was no water on the ground, but that the rocks were smooth and slippery.
According to the plaintiff, the defendant apartment complex was negligent in maintaining the complex’s premises. However, the defendants filed for summary judgment, arguing that the suit had to be dropped because there was insufficient evidence of any hazardous condition. While the lower court denied the motion, on appeal the court found that the defendants were correct. The court reasoned that summary judgment was proper in the case because the plaintiff had not offered evidence that the area she slipped on was actually wet or otherwise hazardous, and in fact testified that there was no liquid in the area and that she did not know what made her slip.
Maryland plaintiffs who are considering filing a personal injury suit after being injured in an accident may focus solely on winning at trial, without realizing that sometimes it is difficult to survive the summary judgment stage and even make it to trial. Those considering filing suits should consult a personal injury attorney who can ensure that their case is properly filed and can’t be squashed by summary judgment.
Contact a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the responsible party. However, the path to recovery is sometimes more difficult than it appears. Contact Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, to work with a dedicated personal injury lawyer at every stage of the process, including through summary judgment. With years of experience representing injury victims all across the state, you can trust your case is in good hands with us. To learn more, call us today at 800-654-1949.