Most of the time, personal injury claims like car accident cases and slip and fall cases are resolved based on the evidence. That can mean going to court and getting a decision from a jury, or it can mean negotiating a financial recovery based on the strength of your claim before the court date ever arrives. In some cases, however, the other side (the defendant) will ask the judge for a dismissal. Dismissal means throwing your case out without even hearing it.
This can be intimidating. But dismissals are an important part of our judicial system. Because judges have the power to dismiss cases, they can stop people from filing frivolous lawsuits. If you have suffered a legitimate injury, and it was caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s unlikely that your case will be dismissed—even if the other side requests it.
When do judges dismiss personal injury cases?
Generally, a judge will only dismiss the case for “failure to state a claim.” This happens when your lawsuit does not spell out a clear chain of causation between the defendant’s actions and your injury. For example, let’s say you you tripped and fell while inside a local grocery store. You cannot simply file a claim against the store owner because the injury happened on premises—you have to show that they did something careless, like not cleaning up a spill, that caused your injury.
If you have an attorney who filed your claim for you, it’s unlikely that there will be a problem with failing to state a claim.
In other cases, you may have filed the claim correctly but the defendant believes you have no evidence. They may challenge your claim and ask the judge to dismiss it in what’s known as a motion to dismiss.
Can the defendant ask the judge for a dismissal even if my case is legitimate?
Yes, and they will often do this as part of their strategy to get out of paying. For the defendant, there is relatively little to lose by asking the judge to dismiss the case—if the judge agrees then the case is over, and if the judge refuses then they can still defend themselves in court. So, some aggressive lawyers and large corporations will request a dismissal in every case they face. This is known as a “preemptive” strategy.
This kind of strategy is why it’s so important to have a good lawyer of your own. A personal injury lawyer will be prepared for a motion to dismiss, and they will have arguments lined up to convince the judge not to dismiss your case. If you have a legitimate claim, then the request for dismissal is nothing but saber-rattling: it’s designed to scare you.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.