Understanding the Common Motions in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina: Explained by Our Greenville Personal Injury Lawyers
Something that occurs in nearly every personal injury case is motion practice. It is almost as guaranteed as taxes and death. Many people are intimidated by the very sound of a “motion,” which could encompass anything from correcting a minor defect to dismissing an entire case. In fact, many clients ask our Greenville personal injury lawyers about these mysterious motions and what they are or how they can impact a case. At its purest essence, a motion is simply an application for an order from the court. But there are ways that certain motions can affect the outcome of a personal injury case in either a positive or negative manner. Thus, it is important for victims and their families to understand the common motions in a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina.
It is also important that victims and their families have an experienced Greenville personal injury lawyer to handle their motions. Here at The Hammack Law Firm, we have extensive experience making or defending motions. This experience includes both the research and drafting aspects, as well as presenting at oral arguments or conferences to address the merits of a motion before a judge. Given our experience, skill, and knowledge of the law and medicine, our personal injury team at The Hammack Law Firm can help victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve in South Carolina. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.
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What are Motions?
As noted above, a motion is an application for an order. Generally, motions are done on paper. That means there is a formal notice of motion, affidavits, memorandum of law, and other supporting exhibits or documents. However, some motions can be made orally. These motions include those at hearings or trials or where a court may entertain an application in a conference. In addition, not all motions are the same. There are different types used for different purposes during a case.
Types of Motions in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina
There are many different types of motions that could be filed either by a plaintiff or a defendant. Some motions are pre-action, which could be to secure evidence (like in a trucking accident and the ECM or black box data), whereas other motions could be post-trial or settlement (like an infant compromise). In between commencement and resolution, there are many other types of motions in a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina.
Some of the most common types of motions in a personal injury case include the following:
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Motion to Dismiss
A motion to dismiss is a pre-trial type of motion often occurring right at the start of a case – often pre-discovery. This type of motion is where a defendant asks the court to dismiss the complaint against that defendant. There are several reasons why a defendant would want to do this (besides just trying to ignore paying for your injuries), which include the following:
- Failure to state a cause of action – claiming that the complaint does not set forth a valid claim against the defendant, which is rare in personal injury cases but still unnecessarily claimed by defendants
- Lack of proper service – this is where a defendant claims that he, she, or it was not properly served. Sometimes it relates to jurisdictional challenges; other times, it is a defendant who claims that they did not get the summons and complaint (sometimes it’s a lie too)
- Statute of limitations – nearly every claim for every civil or criminal case in South Carolina has a statute of limitations period, which is a time limit on filing a lawsuit. Claims filed outside that time period may be dismissed by a court as time-barred or untimely. The time period varies greatly under South Carolina law, generally from three years to just several months against certain municipal entities. There are certain tolls or extensions too, as well as situations that could shrink the time period. Always call an experienced Greenville personal injury lawyer to check how long you have to commence an action.
- Other grounds can include settlement/release, arbitration, subject matter jurisdiction (a bore to explain and not something to worry about!), lack of standing (ability to file a lawsuit), res judicata (a concept that isn’t as cool as it sounds), and more.
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In a personal injury case, as well as all other cases, discovery is the process in which the parties exchange information about the merits of the claims or affirmative defenses. Said differently, this is when the parties spill the beans and share all relevant and material evidence. The goal here is to make sure there can be a just and fair decision on the merits of the case; thus, parties cannot hide evidence that could help the other side that asks for it.
Unfortunately, sometimes parties play games in discovery. That includes failing to disclose certain information in a lawsuit that is material and relevant. Sometimes defendants do this unintentionally, like not thinking that the photos on social media matter. But other times, defendants intentionally may hide evidence to help their case. Additionally, some defendants and witnesses may just not want to cooperate. That includes medical providers or first responders, who often are required to only participate in a lawsuit pursuant to a subpoena (or a formal invite to “come on down”).
As a result, there may be a need to file motions to compel certain paper discovery, depositions, inspections, expert responses, or other information relevant to a lawsuit or to preclude certain evidence that is overreaching by a defendant (such as a defendant trying to get certain medical information about you that is not relevant to the lawsuit). These types of motions don’t appear in every lawsuit but can happen.
Motion for Summary Judgment
A very common motion in personal injury cases is a motion for summary judgment. This type of motion is also a pre-trial motion, but it is often done after disclosure has occurred. It is where a party is telling the court that there are no material facts in dispute and that the law is settled that the moving party should win.
A basic example would be where a defendant causes a car accident by speeding, on a cell phone, while intoxicated, and rear ends the plaintiff’s stopped car at a red light that has been red for several seconds. In that situation, it is extremely likely that the defendant is negligent for several reasons, there is no question of fact as to what happened, and the law establishes that the defendant is liable for the crash.
Unfortunately, not every case is like this. And some instances occur where the defendant will try to argue that there are some questions of fact, including that the plaintiff stopped short (which, based on the facts above, doesn’t exist because the plaintiff was stopped and the light had been red for a while). Other times the defendant will argue that the law does not support the case, such as that a statute wasn’t violated or that it was solely the plaintiff’s fault.
If you don’t have a strong personal injury lawyer from Greenville on your side, the court could grant this motion and get your case or portions of your case dismissed. That’s what makes every summary judgment motion a little dangerous, but that could also be helpful to a plaintiff because either party can file this motion—another reason to have a strong personal injury lawyer on your side.
Motion to Amend or Supplement a Pleading
A pleading is a formal document in a lawsuit that sets forth various claims. It can be amended or supplemented on a motion (or in the rare case where the other party consents to the application). This type of motion in a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina occurs when a victim’s injuries continue to get worse, and there are new damages. Sometimes that is a product of filing a lawsuit early after the accident – which is sometimes necessary against municipal defendants – but it could also be a product of new medical recommendations that surgery is required.
This is a pretty basic type of motion and usually is granted, as long as there is some merit to an application (which there often is), because the motion is not dispositive (meaning that it won’t end a case).
Motions in Limine
Before or during a hearing or trial, there is a special type of motion called a motion in limine. This type of motion is used to limit evidence or testimony in a trial. It could also be used to prospectively have certain evidence deemed permissible too. Motions in limine are very important because they can materially affect how a hearing or trial goes, including vital and relevant evidence to a case. Thus, it is critical that victims and their families contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Greenville for help with their case.
There are Other Motions in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina That Could be Filed. Protect Your Rights to Compensation by Hiring an Experienced Greenville Personal Injury Lawyer to Help You
If you or a loved one were seriously injured, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed in any type of serious personal injury accident in South Carolina, contact The Hammack Law Firm to learn more about your rights to compensation. Don’t settle for just any lawyer. Call an experienced Greenville personal injury lawyer like ours to represent you and your family. There will most likely be motions in your case, and there will be numerous times when your claims, evidence, or other factors may be at risk of being affected by an adverse ruling. That’s why you and your family need to be protected and fight back.
To learn more about how we can help you and your family after a personal injury accident, contact us today by dialing (864) 428-7591 or sending us a message through our website here.