Texas Family Settles After Tragic Thanksgiving Accident
A Thanksgiving pileup on Interstate 10 in Jefferson County, Texas in 2012 injured dozens when over 100 cars collided. Debra and Vincent Leggio tragically died when a truck slammed into the back of their vehicle. The Leggio’s children filed suit against the driver of the truck and the truck company for the wrongful death of their parents. The Leggio’s children settled with the driver and truck company on Monday, December 23, 2013. The decision to settle probably came after discovery between the two parties. Car accidents occur in Beaumont, Tyler, McAllen, El Paso, Lubbock and all throughout Texas every day.
What is Discovery?
In previous posts we discussed a few of the various types of motions that can or should be filed prior to trial in Texas civil suits. The activity before a trial is not limited to writing briefs. In fact, one of the most important parts of a lawsuit is discovery. The word “discovery” is used to describe a set of procedural processes designed to obtain information and evidence from the adverse party. A party can request all manner of documents from and ask questions of the opposing party. Under limited circumstances, a party can refuse to produce the requested discovery. There is discovery in both criminal and civil trials. Here we will only discuss civil discovery, particularly in personal injury cases. As a reminder, civil suits are suits that do not center on a criminal charge.
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Both sides in a suit may, and usually do, request discovery. All discovery must take place during the “discovery period.” There are rules governing each minor step of discovery and many of these rules have exceptions and qualifications. Discovery usually begins with a request for admissions, a set of interrogatories, and a request for disclosure. Interrogatories are a list of questions. Requests for disclosure are a request for documents, videotapes, and evidence helpful to a case. For example, a defendant in a car accident personal injury suit might request a copy of your medical records in an attempt to discover if your injuries existed prior the accident.
A request for admissions must be answered within a certain time frame, most often 30 days. A request for admissions is a list of statements that a party must admit, deny, or explain why he or she can neither admit nor deny. For example, a plaintiff might send to the defendant in a car accident case questions such as : “Admit that you own the blue 2009 Ford F150 involved in the accident at issue in this case” and “Admit that your negligence while texting and driving was the cause of the accident.” The answering party may qualify answers with explanations. If a party fails to answer the requests for admissions, then the requests are all deemed “admitted.” This likely will be tantamount to instantly losing your case.
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Failure to abide by the many, sometimes complex, requirements of pretrial discovery procedure may result in the exclusion of information or evidence vital to your case. Unfamiliarity with the rules of Texas civil procedure and discovery can fatally damage a lawsuit that would otherwise be successful. It is extremely important to ensure that you have a competent, meticulous and passionate attorney working for you to ensure that no steps are overlooked. If you think you might have a legal claim, please contact one of our experienced and skilled attorneys for a free consultation.
Beaumont Personal Injury Lawyers at Brian Loncar Lyon Jenkins