A lot of times, attorneys sound like they may be speaking an entirely different language than you. The things they deal with on a day to day basis and the “terms of art” they toss around in conversation can seem overwhelming at times when your only concern, especially in a personal injury case, is “what does this mean for me and my life”? One of these terms of art is “dispositive motions”. What are they, and what do they do?
Dispositive motions are something a lawyer files with the court on behalf of their client that can, potentially, put an end to all legal proceedings in that court. They can either wipe out your case entirely or just certain portions of it. Most of these motions can fall under two categories: a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment.
Typically, a motion to dismiss involves procedural issues, like whether or not the court has jurisdiction, whether or not the venue is proper, and whether or not proper service procedures were followed. These motions are usually filed towards the start of legal proceedings, though some of them may require some discovery to be conducted for the attorney to have the evidence necessary to present the motion to the court.
Motions for summary judgment usually involves a decision by the judge based on the facts before the court. For example, in a claim for negligence, you must prove that you suffered damages caused by the other party. If you are claiming damages that the opposing parties think are unrelated to the accident, they could potentially file a motion for summary judgment on your negligence claim. If the judge agrees with them that you did not prove all the elements of your claim, they can dismiss your claim.
In circumstances like the above, you may have other claims as well. So, for instance, if you only have the negligence claim above dismissed but also brought claims for something else, the judge could allow you to still have your other claims heard.
When a judge dismisses a claim, based on the circumstances, they can dismiss it either with prejudice or without prejudice. Dismissing a claim with prejudice means that you will not be able to refile your case. Your only option is to appeal the court’s ruling. If the judge dismisses your claim without prejudice, and your statute of limitations has not run, then your attorney should be able to refile your case in the appropriate court and/or with the appropriate causes of action.
Clearly, dispositive motions are not something to be taken lightly. They can be filed for any number of reasons, and each case is unique in its facts. It is important to make sure that your attorney is aware of all of the facts surrounding your case so that they can be sure to defeat any motion that the opposing counsel tries to bring against your claim.
The lawyers of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. are ready to fight for clients and their family members to obtain the full benefits available by law to them. Contact us at (361) 792-2358 or using our online form for a remote consultation that is free, confidential, and comes with no strings attached.