North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Car Accident Dispute Due to Lack of Notice

If you were injured in a car accident, you can bring a claim for compensation. This process involves many different steps and it is important to know key deadlines and processes. If you fail to follow the rules or miss a deadline, you could jeopardize your right to receive damages. Working with the competent Raleigh car accident lawyers at Maurer Law is one way to make the legal process less stressful after an accident. It also allows you to focus on your recovery while we focus on asserting your rights.

A recent Court of Appeal opinion discusses how important it is to follow procedural rules in a car accident case. The plaintiff filed a complaint claiming that she was injured in a car accident caused by the defendant. The defendant filed an answer alleging that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent, which means that the plaintiff also acted carelessly and that this carelessness partially caused her injuries. During a hearing before trial, a dispute arose regarding whether the plaintiff could testify about her injuries, the accident, and medical treatment as a layperson. The defendant noted that the plaintiff had not provided a list of any expert medical witnesses who were going to testify on the plaintiff’s behalf. The defendant had moved to exclude the plaintiff from testifying about her injuries, the accident, and her bills until the plaintiff designated an expert witness.

During the same hearing and after an off-the-record discussion with the judge, the defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff’s case lacked a crucial element: causation. Without medical expert testimony, the defense argued, the plaintiff could not show a causal link between the accident and the injuries that she suffered. The plaintiff objected to the motion for summary judgment for lack of notice as required under Rule 56. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff appealed. A motion for summary judgment asks the court to conclude that there are no genuine disputes of material fact in the case and that the case can be decided as a matter of law.

The appellate court reversed the lower court’s finding. It concluded that the defendant was required to file a 10-day notice for a motion for summary judgment according to the applicable procedural rules. The plaintiff did not waive this notice period, either. Based on this, the trial court should not have granted summary judgment. This is a dispositive motion, meaning it can affect the outcome of the case. Because of this, the rules give the non-moving party notice so that they can prepare a response to the motion.

A car accident can have such an incredibly disruptive effect on a victim and his or her loved ones. Let the compassionate attorneys at Maurer Law assist you with your Raleigh car accident case. You can schedule a free consultation to learn more about how the process works, how we can assist you, and whether you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t wait, act now to protect your rights. Call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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