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Definition - What does Motion mean?

A motion is a request by the defendant or plaintiff in a lawsuit or case to ask the court to rule on a specific issue. For instance, one of the most common types of motions is a motion for summary judgment, which allows the plaintiff or the defendant to ask the court to dismiss a medical malpractice claim.

A defendant may file a motion for summary judgment if they do not believe the plaintiff has proved the healthcare provider breached their standard of care or that the plaintiff was injured due to the medical provider's breach. A plaintiff may file a motion for summary judgment if they believe the facts of the case are undisputed and the court should rule in their favor.

Motion to Dismiss

Defendants may also file a motion to dismiss a case. This can be done for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may file a motion to dismiss the case because the case was not filed properly (i.e. the case was filed after the statute of limitations), or they believe the case is legally invalid.

Other common reasons the defendant may ask to have the case dismissed is if they do not believe the court has the power to rule on the case because they lack personal or subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff has filed the case in the wrong venue, the summons was incorrect, the summons and complaint were improperly served, or the complaint did not specific a legal claim for relief.

Motion for Default Judgment

A motion for default may also be requested if the defendant in a personal injury case, including medical malpractice, fails to answer the complaint. In this case the court will rule in favor of the defendant through a procedure called an entry of default. If a default motion is granted the court will not consider whether the plaintiff is liable; they will assume they are. The court will, however, decide the question of how much the plaintiff should receive in damages. Under some conditions the defendant may be able to vacate the default judgment, but the reason must be sufficient to warrant this action from the court.

Unfortunately, if both parties file multiple motions with the court this can delay a medical malpractice claim for months or years. In some cases a court's ruling for a motion may also be challenged on appeal, allowing further review by the state's Supreme Court. Keep in mind, however, the plaintiff and the defendant have the legal right to file multiple motions for a medical malpractice case.

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