Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Evidence that May Be Faced or Asked in a Personal Injury Action
When pursuing damages for an injury caused by a defective product, negligent driver, or some injury caused or made more likely by a careless or reckless individual a number of legal and factual proofs must be made. In fact, it is the plaintiff and injury victim who bears the burden of carrying his or her burden of proof and convincing the jury that it is more likely than not that the defendant is legally liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. For instance in a negligence action the plaintiff would be required to prove that:
- An injury occurred. Damages can include physical injuries and consequential damages that flow from the injury
- The defendant owed a duty to the injury victim
- The defendant breached or violated that duty
- The actual and legal cause of the injury of the defendant’s conduct or product
Typically, the facts and evidence to prove these or other elements of a case are uncovered during the discovery process. The discovery process can be particularly intimidating and difficult to understand for many people. This page is intended to provide a basic understanding of the process and some of the questions that may be raised as part of the discovery process. Furthermore, it is meant to illustrate how the services of an experienced attorney can be valuable.
Please note that the information contained on this page does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice because it is general in nature and is not responsive to your particular facts or circumstances. If you would like to explore whether the services of the experienced legal team of Hasbrook & Hasbrook are a good match for your situation, please submit your e-mail address in our contact form to schedule a free and confidential initial legal consultation.
By submitting your e-mail address, you should also download an offline PDF version of many of the interrogatories and production requests discussed on this page, as linked above.
Definitions in a Discovery Request
One of the first items in a discovery request, and one of the more intimidating for a layperson or pro se litigant, is the highly technical definitions listed at the outset of most requests. The definitions will define common words with definitions that are more expansive or narrow than one would expect in common usage. For instance, a “writing” might be defined as:
…any written material, whether typed, handwritten, printed or otherwise, or any photograph, photostat, microfilm, or any other reproduction thereof, and including,without limitation, each note, memorandum, letter, telegram, circular, release, article, report,analysis, chart, account, book, draft, summary, diary, transcript, agreement, contract, deposit slip,bank statement, receipt, stock certificate, bond coupon, purchase and/or sale confirmation, monthly securities and/or commodities statements.
Thus, it is clear that a “writing” would include items far beyond something handwritten on to a piece of paper. Likewise, the definition of “a person” might not only include a human being, but also any “…firm, association, partnership, corporation or other form of legal business entity.” Likewise, “communications” might be defined to include nearly all forms of speech and writings including in-person statements, statements over the telephone, or even e-mail. In short, individuals must proceed with the utmost of care when answering discovery because definitions might vary from common understandings.
Potential Questions or Interrogatories in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Interrogatories are likely to request an array of information from the targeted party, but every set of questions will be specifically tailored to address the specific matter at hand. However, it is common in all matters to request information regarding:
- The name, address, telephone number and relationship to you of each person who prepared or assisted in the preparation of the responses.
- Potential witnesses in the matter.
- The statements of any potential witnesses in the matter.
Other interrogatories are likely to request information regarding the facts and circumstances present in the matter. For instance in a slip-and-fall lawsuit it would not be uncommon to present an interrogatory seeking information regarding:
…the type of floor and floor covering, including brand names, that were in the area where Plaintiff was injured and state when, prior to the date of Plaintiff’s accident the floor covering was installed and its condition at the time of the accident.
Furthermore, the plaintiff might be interested to know about the care of the flooring and may seekin information regarding, “…the procedures you follow in inspection, repairing and cleaning the area where Plaintiff’s injuries occurred….and what inspections and corrective actions had been taken before Plaintiff was injured and the date(s) and times(s) of each.” Other questions may inquire into:
- Whether any warnings were provided prior to the injury?
- Were there any efforts made to learn about the general hazards presented by the slipping or tripping risk on this floor surface?
- Whether past injuries have occurred due to a similar risk or through similar circumstances?
- Whether non-skid materials were in-use?
- Does a video of the accident exist or were photographs of the conditions taken?
The above covers only some of the basic questions and inquiries a personal injury victim and plaintiff might make. There are many other questions necessary to ask to garner all the information that would be needed to prove a case.
Discovery Requests in a Personal Injury Action
It is also highly likely that the plaintiff will need to request evidence from the defendant to prove his or her case. Requests for production, like interrogatories, arte often subject to their own specific definitions. However, a party should check to ensure whether additional definitions are included solely for purposes of requests for production of evidence. Requests for production may include:
- Any and all maps, pictures, photographs, building plans or building specifications of the accident site in question that is the subject matter of this action.
- Any and all written, oral, stenographic or mechanically recorded instructions, policies or procedures, including, but not limited to Safety
- Manuals, Management Training Manual, Employee Manuals or Maintenance Manuals presently in your custody or control.
- Any and all accident reports or incident reports.
- Any and all photographic or video graphic evidence of the place, object or individual concerning the incident or Plaintiff’s injuries
Once again, these are merely generalized requests. For any personal injury action it is highly likely that additional, specifically tailored requests for production would also be necessary.
Experienced Oklahoma Attorneys Handle Discovery and All Aspects of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the discovery process already seems complex, you aren’t far off. Furthermore, consider that opposing counsel is unlikely to want to give up certain information. He or she may push the boundaries of the law to attempt to keep out certain evidence unfavorable to the defendant’s case. In circumstances like these, an experienced personal injury attorney can remind the opposing party of their duties and obligations and, if necessary, file a motion to discover the necessary evidence or materials.
To request an offline PDF version of this page containing many of the questions and concerns raised here, please submit your e-mail address to contacted by the experienced personal injury lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook. You can also call us at 405-698-3040 for a free and confidential initial consultation and to determine if our services are a good fit for your concerns.