Motions for Summary Judgment in Florida Personal Injury Cases

January 27, 2021

When a plaintiff files a lawsuit in Florida, often the dispute can be resolved before the case ever makes it to trial. Although there are various points where the issue may be resolved before going to trial, a motion for summary judgment is one of the most common ways to get a court to enter a judgment in your favor, avoiding the need to battle it out with the other party through an expensive and stressful trial.

In a recent Supreme Court of Florida decision, the court examined the role of video evidence in light of a summary judgment motion. Following a fatal rear-end car accident, the estate of the deceased sued the other party. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants after video evidence from the vehicle’s forward-facing dashboard camera contradicted the estate of the deceased’s version of events. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment ruling, claiming that the lower court had improperly weighed the video evidence in light of all of the facts of the case.

On appeal before the Florida Supreme Court, the court affirmed the appellate court’s decision to reverse summary judgment. Because the appellate court understood that summary judgment should not be granted in instances where evidence or the record raises even the slightest doubt that a dispute could be had over issues in the case, the Florida Supreme Court felt the appellate court considered the issue properly.

In Florida, trial courts can enter a judgment in favor of either party before it goes to trial through summary judgment. If a case cannot be resolved through negotiations, many litigants file a motion for summary judgment, which asks the trial court to rule in favor of one party without going to trial based on the information available and presented by the parties. The motion is proper when there is “no genuine issue of material fact” and the party filing the motion believes that they are “entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

Both plaintiffs and defendants can file a motion for summary judgment. Procedures for a motion for summary judgment are established through the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 1.510. The Rule states that when a party files a motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the party filing the motion to prove that there are no triable issues available for consideration for the court. Thus, the party who files the motion must present evidence that there is no way that the court could rule for the opposing party. This is a heavy burden to meet, and the party filing the motion can use all kinds of evidence from the record to establish that there is no genuine dispute. Should the moving party fail to meet their burden, the court will proceed with the trial and deny the motion for summary judgment.

Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has recently been hurt or killed in a Florida personal injury case and is interested in filing a lawsuit, contact the attorneys at Grife Law Firm today. Our team of lawyers is experienced, compassionate, and committed to ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve. We handle all types of personal injury claims, including Florida car accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death claims. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at 855-998-0770.