In many personal injury and medical malpractice cases, the bulk of the litigation actually occurs before a case reaches the trial phase. Much of this pre-trial litigation occurs over discovery-related matters, when the parties essentially argue over which evidence will be considered at trial and which evidence should be kept out. After the evidentiary issues have been resolved, either party is free to move for summary judgment based on the evidence presented to the court thus far in the proceeding.
In Washington, D.C., the Rules of Civil Procedure explain that summary judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Simply put, this means that the party filing for summary judgment is claiming that the other party cannot win the case, even if the court resolves all issues in their favor. The credibility of a witness or document is not at issue in a summary judgment proceeding.
Of course, if the evidence does present an issue of material fact, the moving party cannot legally be entitled to summary judgment, since that issue must be resolved by a fact-finder (either by a judge or jury) at a trial. A recent medical malpractice case out of Indiana illustrates the point well.
Siner v. Kindred Hospital
The Siners filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant hospital after their loved one was treated for a collapsed lung at the facility but failed to recover. She died 22 days after she was admitted to the hospital. After her death, a medical review board reviewed the patient’s treatment history and determined that “the evidence supports the conclusion that the defendants failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care, and that their conduct may have been a factor of some resultant damages, but not the death of the patient.”
The defendants presented one of the doctors on the medical review panel. He testified that, in his opinion, the care provided did not cause any injury to the plaintiff. Based on this testimony and the ultimate conclusion of the medical review panel, the defendants asked the court to grant their motion for summary judgment. However, the court denied the defendants motion.
The court looked at the defendants’ evidence and noted that it presented conflicting opinions about whether the level of care provided resulted in an injury. On one hand, the medical review panel’s opinion was that some injury was the result of the care provided. On the other hand, one of the experts on the panel testified that the level of care did not result in an injury. This discrepancy, the court held, was enough to defeat the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of accident in Washington, D.C., you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As the case discussed above illustrates, all personal injury cases can be quite complex, but they may be able to be resolved at an early stage by the filing of certain strategic motions. The dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC are well versed in all pretrial motions, as well as skilled trial advocates. They will represent you with diligence and compassion from beginning to end. Call 410-654-360 to set up a free appointment with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case.
More Blog Posts:
Hot Air Balloon Operator Not Entitled to Immunity under Recreational Use Statute, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, April 15 2016
Court Holds City Employee Not Entitled to Immunity as a “Land Owner”, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2016