Summary judgment means the judge decides, based only on papers submitted by each side, who wins the case. Partial summary judgment means the judge decides only certain issues, such as liability, i.e., whether defendant is responsible for the accident in which plaintiff was injured. If the judge grants partial summary judgment to plaintiff on liability, the next step will be a trial on damages. But sometimes a liability judgment for plaintiff helps the case settle instead of a trial. The other benefit of summary judgment on liability is that, once there is a damages award, the interest is retroactive to the date of the liability determination. At 9%, that can add up quickly.
I am not your attorney and any posts/messages or responses to posts/messages can not and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon free legal advice, and I disclaim any liability for the outcome if you do. Any opinions offered on matters outside New York State are for general informational purposes only.
In your case, summary judgment on the issue of liability has apparently been awarded by the judge. This is a good thing and you should congratulate your attorney on obtaining partial summary judgment and here is why.
In any personal injury case (other than a motor vehicle or malpractice case), you have to establish two things. First, that the defendant was liable that is responsible for the accident. Second, you have to establish what damages that you have sustained were caused by the accident.
Your case will now proceed to trial on the issue of damages only. This means that the jury will be told that a Judge has already determined that the defendants are at fault in your case and that you were blameless. This puts you at a tremendous advantage. All that has to be done is to prove what damages you suffered as a result of the defendant's actions. It is more complicated in an auto case, where you have to prove that your injuries met the serious injury threshold.
Interest at the rate of 9% (assuming this was a New York case) from the date that summary judgment was awarded will be running. Assume that a jury awards you $100,000 one year after the order granting you summary judgment was entered by the Clerk. An additional $9,000 in interest will be added to the amount (not including statutory costs and disbursements).
Sit down with your lawyer and go over what the strategy will be for your case going forward. Good Luck
Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. The answer given is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for contacting an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and obtaining legal advice from such an attorney.
It is a partial judgment pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civ. Procedure 54 (or its state counterpart) resolving fewer than all claims, or resolving claims against fewer than all parties, prior to trial. Summary judgment is granted as to a matter if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled as to judgment as a matter of law. If a partial judgment is rendered, there will still be a trial as to the remaining claims and/or parties.