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What a ‘Motion for Summary Judgment’ Is and How it Can Play a Huge Role in Your California Injury Lawsuit

When you’re hurt and you have to sue for damages, a trial may be part of the process. It’s important to remember, though, that the trial itself is not the beginning, middle and end of your case. There is a great deal of work that goes into the period before your trial in order to ensure that the outcome you get is the outcome you need. To be sure you have the right legal help to get you to a successful outcome, make sure you have an experienced San Mateo injury attorney working for you.

I.T.’s case was an example of the importance of success in the pre-trial phase. I.T. was a construction worker who fell through a skylight at a construction site and who, as a result, sued the general contractor on the project. Before the trial, the defense filed a motion arguing that I.T. was an independent contractor, that the contractor could not be liable under California law and that it was entitled to summary judgment in its favor.

The battle over a defense motion for summary judgment is an extremely important crossroads in any injury case. In a civil lawsuit, there are generally two ways to arrive at a successful outcome. One is through settlement and one is via a judgment. To receive substantial compensation via either of these paths, it is often necessary to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment. A summary judgment for the defense is something ordered by the court that says that, regardless of what evidence you might put on at trial, there is no possible way under the law that you could succeed in getting a judgment in your favor.

If the defense wins this, then your case is thrown out, there is no trial and you receive nothing. If you defeat this motion, however, then your case will proceed toward trial. You get to put your evidence and arguments before a jury and have your “day in court,” or you get to make the defense “come to the table” and make a fair settlement offer. These are key reasons why winning this is so important. If you want to go to trial, you often can’t get there without first defeating a motion for summary judgment. If you are willing to entertain settlement offers, the offers the defense makes may often be much larger and fairer after it knows it is facing a trial and defending its actions to the jury.

For I.T., losing this argument about a summary judgment would mean the contractor would owe nothing and would have won without even having to go to trial. In this case, that wasn’t the outcome. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge was wrong to have issued a summary judgment in favor of the general contractor. That outcome was a huge “win” for I.T. and placed him on a path of being able to continue pursuing the compensation he needed.

Whether I.T. ultimately seeks a judgment or a settlement, his chances of a true “success” are much greater than if he had lost his argument about the general contractor’s summary judgment motion. A defense motion for summary judgment is just one of many hurdles you have to clear on your way to a judgment and award of damages. To make sure you’re ready to clear all of those potential obstacles, you need the right legal team on your side. The experienced San Mateo injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos are here to provide you with that type of effective legal representation. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys and find out how we can help, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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