Lawyer Greg Stokes Explains “Summary Judgment”

A lawsuit begins when the victim’s lawyer files paperwork, a “complaint,” with the court. Then the insurance company for the person being sued files an “answer.” After that, the law requires both sides to exchange certain information about themselves and what happened. Then, if the case does not settle, the court sets a trial date, where a jury will decide what, if any, award should be paid to the victim.

But before the case ever gets to trial, the insurance company may ask a judge to dismiss (throw out) the case. They do this by filing more paperwork, called a “Motion for Summary Judgment.” The insurance company files this motion if it thinks that the victim’s case is missing some necessary legal part. If this motion succeeds, the judge dismisses the case, and there is no settlement, no trial, and no award for the victim.

In one of our cases, the insurance company made a motion for summary judgment. Our client was a construction worker who had been throwing insulation off the third story of a building when he slipped and began to fall. He grabbed the safety rail, but it was not well attached and gave way. He fell three stories and was very seriously injured. Our investigation showed that a drywall company had detached the safety rail to make it easier to deliver drywall to the third floor, and then had not securely reattached it.

In its motion for summary judgment, the drywall company’s insurer claimed the drywall company had no legal duty to correctly reattach the safety railing after the delivery and should not have to pay for the victim’s injuries.

To oppose this, we obtained and filed an affidavit from an OSHA safety expert saying safety standards required anyone detaching a safety railing to securely reattach it. We also filed the testimony we had obtained by depositions (formal, recorded interviews) of witnesses that the drywall company had violated those safety standard in the way they nailed the safety railing back on after the drywall delivery.

The judge ruled in our favor and refused to dismiss the case. The drywall company’s insurer refused to make any settlement, and we took the case to trial. At the end of the trial, the jury made a large award to our client, the injured construction worker.

If you or your family member have been seriously injured in a construction accident, or any other type of accident, please call us, Stokes & Kopitsky, for help. We are Atlanta injury attorneys who have years of experience in getting excellent settlements and verdicts for injury victims and surviving families of wrongful death victims.

We answer our telephones 24/7, and there is no charge for your initial consultation. We advance all court costs, and our fees and the costs are paid from the settlement or award we obtain for you; if there is none, there are no fees. Please call us toll-free at 404-892-0011 for top-quality, caring legal help for serious injury or wrongful death.

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