The Summary Judgment Standard in Maryland Truck Accident Cases

When people picturing filing a Maryland truck accident lawsuit, they probably picture going to court, with lawyers standing up in front of a judge and jury and making impassioned arguments. While this sometimes is the case, many cases are actually resolved before making it to trial. Sometimes, the resolution may be in the form of a settlement agreement reached by the parties—agreeing that the plaintiff will dismiss the suit for a certain amount of money. Other times, however, the resolution may be because the judge just decides the case before trial. The judge may decide to grant summary judgment to one side, meaning that even if the other side was correct in the facts it alleges to be true, there’s no way that they could win at trial.

When Does a Court GRant Summary Judgment?

Summary judgment is appropriate in a personal injury lawsuit when there is no genuine issue of material fact between the two parties. Usually, one party will file a motion for summary judgment — believing that the other side does not have a chance to win, even if all issues of fact are resolved in the non-moving party’s favor. The court will consider all the facts and evidence before it and decide if there is a genuine issue of material fact. A material fact is one that could change the outcome of the case. If the court determines there is an issue of material fact, the court will deny the moving party’s motion for summary judgment and the case will be submitted to the jury. If not, then the court will grant the motion for summary judgment and dismiss the case.

For an example of summary judgment in the truck accident context, take a recent appellate court decision. According to the court’s written opinion, the suit was not from negligent driving, as is often the case, but related to a product liability suit. The plaintiff in the suit worked as a truck driver and was working on a dump trailer when he fell off of the trailer. He landed on his feet and felt a sharp pain in his back, and suffered injuries resulting from his fall.

The injured man and his wife filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the truck, claiming that it negligently designed, manufactured, and sold a defective and dangerous product. The plaintiffs also claimed the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the product’s foreseeable dangers. In a deposition, the plaintiff’s expert stated that the steps on the dump trailer were defective and unreasonably dangerous, and that they did not comply with the recommended practices of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American National Standards Institute, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, which the court granted. However, the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court found that the grant of summary judgment was incorrect because the plaintiff’s witness’s testimony was sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not the defendants designed steps that were defective and unreasonably dangerous. As a result, the lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment was overturned, and the plaintiff could move forward with their case.

Do You Need a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

If you have recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, or from a defective truck itself, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation. Waste no time before calling Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, today at 800-654-1949. We also represent clients in Maryland car accidents, slip and falls, instances of medical malpractice, and more. Our lawyers are available for free initial consultations to discuss your case and how we can help you bring it. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for any of our services unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

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