Legal News & Updates

What does a pretrial order look like for an automobile accident case in Georgia?

We take pride in preparing all of our cases for trial, and a number of those cases are automobile accidents. Once we finish up a process called discovery, which basically means that we exchange information with the other side through written questions, documents, and depositions (pretty much interviews), we will stipulate to a trial calendar, i.e. we’re ready for the jury! The court will then set us down for a pretrial conference. It’s an opportunity for the judge and both sides to talk about the issues in the case and get things ready from a procedural prospective too.

Prior to the conference, the parties need to prepare what is called a pretrial order. Each case is certainly unique, but there is a standard form for the order. We thought it would be useful to share it with you, but a word of caution — Still hire a lawyer — Pretrial conferences are complicated proceedings.

Well, with that word of caution, here you go…

FYI — We’ve added a few of our thoughts/comments in bold. Hope it helps!

CONSOLIDATED PRE-TRIAL ORDER

1.
The name, address and phone number of the attorneys who will conduct the trial are as follows:
Attorney(s) for Plaintiff:

Attorneys for Defendant:

2.
The estimated time required for trial is ______ days.

Most cases can be tried in less than a week. For basic car accident cases, we try to have them tried in three days. Be efficient! It’s good for everyone!

3.
There are no motions or other matters pending for consideration by the court except as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

Always try to resolve issues with the opposing attorney/side and try not to spend too much time simply arguing for the sake of arguing. 
4.
The jury will be qualified as to relationship with the following:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

The reason for this part is to avoid having a relative on the jury — It simply wouldn’t be fair. We need an impartial jury!

5.
(a) All discovery has been completed, except as otherwise noted, and the court will not consider any further motions to compel discovery except for good cause shown. The parties, however, shall be permitted to take depositions of any person(s) for the preservation of evidence for use at trial.
(b) The names of the parties as shown in the caption to this order are correct and complete and there is no question by any party as to the misjoinder or non joinder of any parties.

Here, the Court wants to make sure that everything is wrapped up and that you got the right parties. 

6.
The following is the plaintiff’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:
7.
The following is the defendant’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:

Keep them short and simple!

8.
The issues for determination by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

What is the issue, i.e. who is at fault, did the car accident cause the injury, what are the damages?

9.
Specifications of negligence including applicable code sections are as follows:

Pretty simple here too — Was the other person following too closely, made a illegal turn…

10.
If the case is based on a contract, either oral or written, the terms of the contract are as follows:

Not applicable in automobile cases.

11.
The types of damages and the applicable measure of those damages are stated as follows:

Usually in automobile accidents its medical bills and lost income, i.e. special damages, and general damages, i.e. pain and suffering. 

12.
If the case involves divorce, each party shall present to the court at the pre-trial conference the affidavits required by Rule 24.2.

13.
The following facts are stipulated:

It means that sometimes the parties can agree on things so there is no need to let a jury decide it. 

14.
The following is a list of all documentary and physical evidence that may be tendered at the trial by the parties. Unless noted, the parties have stipulated as to the authenticity of the documents listed, and the exhibits listed may be admitted without further proof of authenticity. All exhibits shall be marked by counsel prior to trial so as not to delay the trial before the jury.
(a) By the plaintiff:

(b) By the defendant:

Yep, it’s what is means — A list of the documents and other things a party will use at trial.

15.
Special authorities relied upon by the plaintiff relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

16.
Special authorities relied upon by the defendant relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

If there are complex issues, this part gives the information to the Court. 

17.
All requests to charge anticipated at the time of trial will be filed in accordance with Rule 10.3.

We’ll explain this another day. 😉

18.
The testimony of the following person(s) may be introduced by depositions:
(a) By the plaintiff:
(b) By the defendant:
Any objection to the depositions or questions or arguments in the depositions shall be called to the attention of the court prior to trial.

Sometimes people aren’t able to attend so there are ways to make sure the jury still gets to hear what they have to say.

19.
The following are lists of witnesses who will or may be called to testify at trial:
(a) The plaintiff will have present at trial:
(b) The plaintiff may have present at trial:
(c) The defendant will have present at trial:
(d) The defendant may have present at trial:
Opposing counsel may rely on representation by the other party that he or she will have a witness present unless notice to the contrary is given in sufficient time prior to trial to allow the other party to subpoena the witness or obtain his/her testimony by other means.

Just like the documents, you’ll list out the people who will show up for your case. 

20.
The forms of all possible verdicts to be considered by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:
 This is for another day too. 😉

21.
(a) The possibilities of settling the case are ____.
(b) The parties do/do not want the case reported.
(c) The cost of takedown will be shared equally between the parties.
(d) Other matters:

We hope our blog was helpful, but do feel free to reach out to us if you have any specific questions about pretrial orders in Georgia. You can reach us at (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com. Hope to hear from you!

Getting Involved in the Legal Profession in Georgia

Our past few blog posts have focused on legal topics and advice, but the profession extends well-beyond the courtroom. Professional engagement is very important to us. I am the editor for the Litigation Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. A younger colleague of ours wrote a very engaging article for our newsletter. We wanted to share it with you on our blog too!  (It’s also hard to believe where the times goes because I’ve now been in practice for over a decade.) In any event, enjoy……

Professional Development as a Young Attorney

Career trajectory is a constant thought for young professionals entering the legal field.   One way to combat those perpetual thoughts of wondering where you will be in the next couple of years is to start with the end goal in mind. Consider the legacy you would like to leave behind when you decide to retire the suit jacket for flip-flops and sand castles.   A simple question to ask yourself is whether you would like to be remembered as the lawyer that passed the bar and no one ever heard of again, or one that showed their zest to give back through getting involved and staying involved throughout the legal community.

We all know how important it is to be responsible for your career after graduating law school and passing the bar.  However, that involves more than landing a job and getting settled in.  While it is important to find employment and gain as many valuable skills as possible, it is equally important to involve yourself in activities outside of work that align with your interest.  As young professionals, we tend to focus our attention heavily on becoming great lawyers. We make a great effort to be the first ones to arrive at work and the last ones to leave.  Newly admitted attorneys and recent graduates must also understand the value and importance of involvement outside of your job.

As a young professional, getting involved can be somewhat frightening.  You may feel as though your lack of experience somehow deems you unqualified. There may be confusion about who to ask or where to go, but I can assure you that there’s an organization or committee suitable to your interest.  Typically, an organization’s website will list their upcoming events and board member’s contact information. I challenge anyone looking to become involved to attend at least one event per month before settling on not becoming involved at all. The last event I attended was for informational purposes only, however, I was unexpectedly invited to become a member of the executive committee.  Things manage to happen when you put yourself in the right place at the right time.

Becoming involved, as a young professional, could mean a number of things depending upon whom you are speaking with.  Your association does not have to be limited to legal organizations. It may involve becoming a committee member on a local school board, fine art society or even grass roots organizations in your community. It could be as simple as reaching out to individuals on professional social sites to meet for coffee or attending local or state bar events.

Also, there are many organizations and bar associations that are involved in the efforts to improve diversity and equality in the legal field that may be of interest to new lawyers.   There are many organizations that offer free training and webinars to lawyers that are free of charge.

Another benefit of getting involved as a new lawyer is the ability to connect with people that are further along in their careers than you or practicing in an area of law that may align with your career goals.  It is a great pleasure to speak with senior attorneys and mid to junior level attorneys that can warn of the pitfalls and how to avoid making certain mistakes.  Whether you are interested in finding a mentor, attending a happy hour, or listening to a panel discussion, I can assure you that there is an organization awaiting you with open arms.  

More importantly, the best part of getting involved as a young lawyer is that you might have the opportunity to help someone in need of your services.  It has been a great pleasure of mine to volunteer with organizations that provide legal services to the underprivileged to help them navigate the legal system. Also, the Georgia bar urges all lawyers to provide at least 50 hours annually of pro bonowork to low income Georgians.  I believe that there is no better way to complete your hours than by dedicating your time and service to an organization that is committed to giving back to those in need.

Finally, my hope is that all of my fellow young professionals will join at least one local or state bar organization and become an active member. Attend events and rest assured that any organization or association’s most valuable assets are its members.  It is through you that all things are possible!

As always, please consider us a resource and friend whether you a young professional, attorney, or just have a question about the law here in Georgia. We’re happy to help! My contact is kevin@patricktriallaw.com or (404) 566-8964.