Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases

Virginia courts see tens of thousands of cases each year. If each of these cases was presented to a jury, the court system would get bogged down, resulting in cases taking several years to be heard. Thus, Virginia courts only allow cases to be presented to a jury when there is an important and disputed fact that the jury must resolve. However, if the issues presented in a case are legal in nature, a judge can make the decision through a process called summary judgment.

MotorcycleVirginia’s Summary Judgment Standard

In Virginia, either party can move for summary judgment, asking the court to find in their favor without the necessity of going to trial. This can save considerable time and expense; however, summary judgment is only 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.” In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court will look at the parties’ pleadings and proffered evidence. A recent motorcycle accident case illustrates a situation in which an appellate court agreed with the lower court that summary judgment was appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving wife of a man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. On the day of the accident, the motorcyclist was driving eastbound on the highway in the far-right lane of travel. The defendant pulled up to the intersection, heading northbound on a perpendicular street, and was waiting to make a left turn across the highway to head westbound.

As the defendant lurched into the intersection, he failed to notice the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist attempted to stop but was unable to do so in time. The motorcyclist collided with the front driver’s-side quarter-panel of the truck. The responding police officer conducted an accident investigation and determined that the accident was the defendant’s fault and that the motorcyclist attempted to avoid the collision by braking for 89 feet.

The motorcyclist was thrown from the bike and sustained serious injuries. He was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.

The plaintiff moved for summary judgment at trial, arguing that there were no factual issues that needed to be decided by a jury and that the court should determine that the defendant was liable as a matter of law. The defendant argued that summary judgment was not appropriate because there was a potential issue regarding the motorcyclist’s own fault in causing the collision. However, the court rejected the defendant’s argument, noting that there was no evidence that the motorcyclist was negligent. The court pointed to the police officer’s report that indicated the motorcyclist had the right-of-way at the time of the accident and attempted to avoid the collision. Finding that there was no evidence giving rise to any indication that the motorcyclist was negligent, the court affirmed summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, your case may be able to be resolved without going to trial, through either summary judgment or settlement negotiations. The Virginia personal injury attorneys at Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience in motorcycle accident cases, and we know what it takes to be successful in Virginia courts. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Roberts today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Determines a Plaintiff’s Alleged Negligence Is Not Relevant in Crashworthiness Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 2, 2017.

Court Determines Accumulated Rainfall May Constitute Dangerous Condition, Depending on Surrounding Circumstances, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 26, 2017.