Discovery Sanctions in Virginia Personal Injury Cases

Before a Virginia truck accident case reaches trial, it goes through several other stages. One of the most important stages of a personal injury case is the pre-trial discovery phase. During pre-trial discovery, each party is able to request certain information that the requesting party believes the opposing party has in its possession. While certain information and documents are privileged, in most cases, parties must provide what is ordered by the judge.

Semi-TruckOf course, much of the information sought during pre-trial discovery may be considered harmful to the party ordered to release it. However, that does not change the requirement that ordered evidence be handed over to the opposing side. Indeed, under Virginia Supreme Court Rule 4:12, a court can impose a number of sanctions against a party that fails to comply with a court’s discovery order, including precluding the party from making certain arguments, admitting certain evidence, or in some cases, striking the party’s filings.

A recent appellate decision illustrates how seriously courts take discovery requests and the serious consequences one plaintiff faced when she filed notice of her expert witnesses four months after the deadline.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a truck accident with the defendant. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff claimed she was driving on the highway when the defendant truck driver rear-ended her, causing her to lose control of the car and ultimately crash. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff lost control of her vehicle, crashed into a barrier, and then made contact with his truck.

Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. After reviewing both parties’ motions, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s statement of facts contained in her motion should be stricken because the content of the statement consisted of expert opinions that were not disclosed to the defense until four months after the deadline for discovery had passed. The plaintiff argued that her lateness should be excused because she mistakenly thought that the deadline had not yet passed when she filed her experts’ opinions. However, the court concluded that was an insufficient reason to outweigh the potential prejudice the defendant would suffer by allowing the evidence to be considered.

The plaintiff appealed the court’s decision to a higher court, but the case was affirmed on appeal. The appellate court explained that trial courts have broad discretion regarding precluding late-filed pleadings and that in this case the court was within its discretion to strike the plaintiff’s statement of facts. Without the plaintiff’s statement of facts, there was no conflicting evidence, and the court affirmed the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Auto Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident or truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Virginia personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of personal injury cases, including truck accidents. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule your free consultation with Attorney Charles B. Roberts today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Mandates Enforcement of Arbitration Clause in Recent Nursing Home Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, November 13, 2017.

“Fireman’s Rule” Prevents Police Officer from Pursuing Personal Injury Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, October 25, 2017.