When you file a personal injury lawsuit, your case is assigned to a judge and the judge will oversee the legal process from the beginning, often months before there’s a trial. During this time, both sides of the case may want to make requests of the judge—asking that certain evidence be ruled out, for example, or that certain rules are followed. The way that you make this kind of request is by filing a motion.
A motion is a formal document making a request of the court. Normally it asks the judge to do one of three things:
- Issue an order about the case
- Give direction on a specific issue in the case
- Make a ruling on the case itself
Most motions are filed long before there is a courtroom trial, and are known as pretrial motions. The biggest and most common pretrial motions are:
- Motion to dismiss. This is when the defendant (the insurance company) asks the judge to dismiss the entire case. The motion will argue that you do not deserve any recovery or relief for the injury you sustained, at least not from the party in question. If the judge grants the motion, you lose your case.
- Motion for summary judgment. Either side can file this motion. It essentially asks the judge to just go ahead and make a final verdict in the case immediately, without a full trial. In order to do this there has to be very clear evidence in the case. Alternately, if the other side has not been responding to legal documents or showing up in court, the side that is still active in the case may request a summary judgment.
What do motions do for my case?
Motions are not technically necessary to take a claim through the legal process. But they are your only recourse when the process seems to be going against you or when the other side isn’t playing fair. Motions are how you ask the judge to consider special issues, adjudicate unfair behavior, or impose special rules to keep the case running smoothly.
A good example of this is an evidentiary motion. Evidentiary motions are requests relating to evidence. Imagine, for example, that you are the victim of a car accident, and you were totally sober when it happened. But the insurance company keeps bringing up an old criminal conviction of yours—five years ago, you were arrested for possession of marijuana. The insurance company knows the charge makes you look bad, but it’s completely irrelevant to the car accident case. You could file an evidentiary motion asking the judge to block the marijuana charge as evidence. If the judge approves, it cannot be brought up anymore, and the jury may never hear about it.
Motions are difficult because the court never prompts you to file one. This is why a good lawyer makes such a big difference. The exact motions that will be used are different in a construction accident claim, a truck accident claim or a defective medical device claim. But no matter what the type of case, motions are how you defend yourself and control what the opposition can do. An experienced lawyer knows when to file motions and how to maximize their chances of success.
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.