Parties often dispute liability in cases arising out of car accidents. As such, information demonstrating the extent of the damage to the cars involved can help to show how the accident occurred and to prove that the collision produced sufficient force to bring about the plaintiff’s reported injuries. If a defendant refuses to share such pictures of his or her vehicle after the accident, though, it may unjustly impact the plaintiff’s ability to prove its claims. Recently, a Florida court discussed what information is discoverable in a car accident case in which the defendant argued work-product privilege protected him from having to disclose certain photographs. If you were involved in a car crash, it is smart to meet with a trusted Florida car accident lawyer about your potential claims.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff and defendant were involved in a crash that caused the plaintiff to sustain injuries to her back and neck. The plaintiff subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant, asserting that his negligence caused the crash and her consequential harm. During the discovery phase of the case, the plaintiff sent the defendant multiple requests for the production of documents, in which she sought photographs of the automobiles involved in the accident.
Allegedly, the defendant provided some pictures but objected to the requests as seeking information that was protected by the work-product privilege. The plaintiff then moved for the court to overrule the defendant’s objections.
Work-Product Privilege in Car Accident Cases
Under federal law, a party may seek discovery about any matter that is relevant to its claim or defense, as long as it is proportional to his or her needs. The court explained that discovery helps parties determine facts that bear on certain relevant issues. Thus, a party may move for an order that compels the opposing party to produce discovery.
A party moving to compel discovery bears the initial burden of proving the information sought is proportional and relevant. In turn, the responding party must specifically demonstrate how the discovery requested is unduly burdensome or unreasonable. In the subject case, the defendant’s attorney requested the production of many of the photographs the plaintiff sought on the grounds they were protected by the work-product doctrine.
The court explained that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party generally may not discover documents or things prepared in anticipation of litigation for trial unless they cannot be obtained by any other source and the party seeking them shows that it has a substantial need for the materials. Here, the court found that the defendant’s counsel failed to demonstrate the privilege applied to all of the materials sought. Thus, it granted the motion in part and denied it in part.
Speak to a Seasoned Florida Attorney
While privilege protects certain materials from disclosure in personal injury cases, parties cannot assert privileges inappropriately to unjustly deny their opponents the right to pursue claims. If you were hurt in a car accident, it is advisable to speak to an attorney about your rights. The seasoned Florida car accident lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. possess the skills and experience needed to help you seek justice, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a favorable outcome. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.