Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that presents an issue that is relevant to Virginia car accident victims considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff’s case should have been dismissed based on the dishonest answers he provided during the discovery process.
The Facts of the Case
About seven years ago, the plaintiff was involved in a collision with the defendant. After the accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that the accident caused various injuries to his shoulder, back, and neck, and that the other driver should be liable for the accident and damages.
After the complaint was filed, the parties engaged in the discovery process. Discovery is part of the pre-trial procedure that allows each party to obtain evidence from the opposing party. Some common forms of discovery are requests for medical documentation, depositions, and interrogatories.
In this case, the defendant asked the plaintiff to produce medical documentation regarding any treatment he received to his neck, shoulder, and back prior to the accident. The plaintiff denied previous treatment or the existence of these records; however, the defendant obtained a subpoena to get the plaintiff’s past medical records. The records indicated that the plaintiff concealed previous injuries to the same areas.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, but the motion was denied because dismissal is not necessarily an appropriate sanction when there is a discovery violation. However, the defendants moved for reconsideration of the motion, which was granted. The trial court explained that the plaintiff “unequivocally denied” ever having similar injuries or seeking treatment for those injuries, which was clearly not the case.
The Appellate Court’s Ruling
The appellate court found that dismissal based on a discovery sanction is only reserved for the most extreme cases. The court looked at the totality of the circumstances and found that the plaintiff’s continued misleading conduct and concealment was a product of bad faith and willfulness. The court ultimately affirmed the dismissal.
The Importance of Counsel and Candor During the Virginia Discovery Process
Virginia personal injury lawsuits are best handled by experienced attorneys who are well-versed in the various laws and procedures that are involved in these lawsuits. In many instances, cases hinge not only on the merit of a case but also on adherence to the procedures and laws applicable in that specific case.
Discovery is a very important stage of these lawsuits because it lays the foundation of which information is in the hands of the parties. It assists in the preparation of trial and lets the parties evaluate the best course of action for the particular case. As the above discussion illustrates, when discovery laws are not followed, the outcome can be disastrous to either party. In fact, the case may be dismissed before it is even heard by a judge or jury. It is important that individuals who have been injured in an accident contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to assist them in their case.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you should contact the dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys at the Law Offices of Charles B. Roberts to discuss your rights and remedies. Attorney Roberts is well-versed in all stages of Virginia personal injury litigation and knows the importance of following the state’s exacting procedural requirements. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact the firm at 703-491-7070 to schedule your free consultation.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Product Liability Case After Finding Warnings Were Adequate, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, April 18, 2018.
Court Discusses the Doctrine of Imputed Negligence in Recent Car Accident Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 4, 2018.