Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC
Discovery in the Bowling Green car accident case directly impacted the settlement value of the case. Because the client came across as hardworking, humble, and likable, he was able to place the defendants in a position with few options. However, this could not have been possible without the assistance of an attorney who had experience handling cases like these. Attorneys in Bowling Green could help you recover the compensation you need either through settlements or trial if your claim is found to have legal merit.
Because the client had retained our services, we were able to aid her during discovery in the Bowling Green wrongful death car accident case. During discovery, we filed requests for production of documents on behalf of our client. The documents we requested were certified copies of the insurance policy. We also requested any videos they had and any photographs they had as well as a copy of the title of the vehicle in question.
During discovery in the Bowling Green wrongful death car accident case, our client did have to produce documents to the defendant. The opposing sides wanted any photos we had, any witness statements we had, and any videos we had on the accident scene. They wanted tax returns so we could prove a loss of income of our client, who died as a result of the accident. They wanted copies of medical bills, medical records, including prior medical bills or records, so we could show the state of the client’s health. Finally, they wanted photos or documentation to show the love and relationship between the deceased, the client, and their family.
Interrogatories are questions that either party could ask the other side that should be answered under oath. Usually, the client sits down with the attorney and they work together to truthfully answer the questions. The goal of the interrogatories is to obtain information early on in the case to help determine if there are additional documents or statements that should be taken before setting up depositions under oath.
During discovery in the Bowling Green car accident case, we asked approximately 25 interrogatories to the defendant and a smaller number to the insurance company and the owner of the car, both in the range of 12 to 15 questions.
Our client received interrogatories from opposing counsel, totaling 30 individual questions.
Given our firm’s 35 years of experience, we have a process of answering interrogatories that starts by sending the list of interrogatories to our client. We have the client try to answer the questions as best they are able to and leave blank the questions they do not understand or with which they need help. Then we have the client come in and meet with the attorney and the legal assistant. We answer the questions together, type up those answers, and have the client review them. The client is then sworn in and signs an affidavit stating that the answers are true and accurate to the best of their ability.
In this wrongful death case, the opposing parties were looking for heirs and people that would collect under the wrongful death statutes. We were asked to identify brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and others who potentially could collect under the Ohio wrongful death statute. Their names, addresses, and occupations were requested. They also wanted information about our client’s employment history that would be relevant to current and future wages, which would be another element of the damages. A lot of background information about our client and about the relationships that she had with her children, grandchildren, and husband were requested.
Typically, cases include a request for admissions. The opposing side is asked either to admit or deny the allegations. If they deny the allegations, there is a follow-up interrogatory regarding their reasons for denying the allegations.
In a case like this, we try to narrow the issues so that we see which issues are the other side disputes. One issue was whether or not they would admit responsibility for the accident. Other questions asked whether they would argue that our clients were guilty of any contributory negligence. We also asked about the identity of the vehicle’s title owner as to whether the car was used with their permission.
We had valuable information in this case. For example, there was a dispute regarding whether the vehicle was co-owned by both the defendant and his wife, whether it was in the husband’s name, or whether it was in the wife’s name. Finding out the limits of the insurance policy was also important because until the policy limits were offered by the insurance company we did not have a valid claim against the underinsured motorist policy.
Depositions are statements under oath. They are statements in which all parties are present and could ask questions of the deposed person. Typically, depositions include background questions about the individual, questions about the fact pattern of the case, and questions regarding injuries or damages in the case.
In this case, there was only one deposition. The underlying criminal charges dragged on for a long time, giving the other side a legal basis via the fifth amendment not to continue on with their deposition until that case was finished. Regardless of the fact that only our side was deposed, we were able to prove through public records that the other driver had prior charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under suspension.
We could prove that this was an individual who was not a very responsible driver. During negotiations, they conceded that this individual would come across negatively in court due to his prior driving record and we made a mutual agreement that we would go into mediation with that understanding from both sides. If the mediation was unsuccessful, we would proceed on with the deposition after the criminal charges were finished with.
In order to prepare the client for deposition, we did several things. First of all, three weeks to a month before the deposition, we sent them a packet explaining the concept of a deposition and its goals.
Second, we sent them a copy of all of the relevant medical records along with the attorney’s summary of their treatment. We have on staff a nurse paralegal who summarizes all of our medical records. We also sent them copies of the photos and answers to previous interrogatories.
Then we set up a practice meeting with the client after they reviewed and digested all the information. The attorney went through all of the documents, answered all of their questions, and sets up a practice session typically an hour before their deposition. This gives them two meetings before the deposition to make sure they are adequately prepared.
In some situations, if it is a more complicated case or the client feels they need more meetings, we would have either a third meeting or a phone meeting in addition to the others.
All the parties and the other attorneys were responsible and respectable and respected the tragedy of my client’s situation. They asked questions about his background, his pre-existing medical condition, his current medical condition, his educational and employment background, how he met his late wife, how their relationship developed, questions about the late wife’s prior medical record and employment history, their relationship together, her relationship with her adult children, her relationship with her grandchildren, her relationship with the community, her hobbies, their farm, their animals, and other personal and background questions.
The only thing notable that was uncovered during our client’s deposition was that his late wife was a remarkable individual who had a close relationship with her husband, with her children, with her grandchildren, and was important to the community. The whole extended family relationship revolved around her.
In some cases, there are video depositions recorded on videotape. In this case, unlike in other cases, a court reporter took down a word by word written transcript of the case. Those transcripts were ordered up by the parties in the case.
Normally, the court reporter is a notary public and has the legal authority to swear in a witness. The witness raises their right hand and swears to tell the truth and the complete truth. The importance of being sworn in is that the witness can be subject to perjury if it is proven that they lied under oath.
An attorney should be present at depositions for several reasons. First, since the attorney presents the case at trial, mediation, or negotiations, they need to hear the evidence firsthand. Secondly, in order to protect the client’s rights, they need to be there in order to object to certain questions For example, if they thought that there were questions that were inappropriate or not allowed, they could object to those questions in order for the client to be confident of their abilities. Most importantly, an attorney protects the rights of the client at a deposition and ensures that no one is taking advantage of them.
Normally, every deposition is by cross-examination, and our client was cross-examined in this case. There is a difference here. If an attorney asks their client questions, that is considered direct examination. Direct examination is when the person tells their story, and typically they have witnesses that are favorable to them or at the bare minimum are not in opposition to their story.
When taking a deposition of an opposing witness, oftentimes opposing attorneys are going to ask leading questions to paint a picture of the story and the fact pattern that is most favorable to their clients. When the other side is taking my client’s deposition, they may ask some questions that are direct examination questions as well as cross-examination questions that would help their case.
In Bowling Green, Ohio, there is no limit to the number of objections attorneys could make. They may give an objection and state their reasoning, such as a hearsay objection claiming that the deponent is asked a question about which they have no firsthand knowledge.
Firsthand knowledge is obtained through their own perceptions. In a discovery deposition like this one, usually the only objections are when the attorney is trying to embarrass or confuse the witness. There were very few objections in this case.
The other side was appropriate and did not ask anything that was out of the line in this case. We did not have any objections.
The deposition in this Bowling Green case substantially increased the value. One of the major issues, in any case, is the likability of the client. Some people are extraordinarily likable and some people are not likable. In this case, the client came across as a hardworking man who has spent a number of years as a special education teacher, was a good father, was a good husband, and was active in the community.
The client’s late wife was shown as a loving mother, grandmother, hard worker, and somebody who was still working in a Kroger grocery store in her 50s at the time of the accident. She was somebody who was not born with a silver spoon in their mouth was the kind of salt-of-the-earth person that is likable to a jury. One of the major advantages in this case was that these were individuals that a jury would like, and being liked by the jury is an excellent way to get a large verdict.
Discovery in the Bowling Green car accident case was easy for the attorney because of their years of experience handling cases like these. However, had the client not enlisted the help of attorneys, his case may have gone unresolved. If you are thinking of holding a negligent party accountable for their actions, you need to consider hiring an attorney familiar with depositions, requests for admissions, negotiations, and trial. Reach out to one today.