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!

What do I need to know about the new distracted driving law in Georgia?

How often have you seen people on the roads looking at their phone? You’ve probably even noticed that at stop signs people are glued to their screens and possibly even watching videos — Yes, it’s been happening more and more these days. While cell phones are handy devices, they are also causing a lot more automobile accidents here in Georgia, especially in the metro-Atlanta area with all of the traffic. The Georgia Legislature has recently passed HB 673, which is sometimes called the “Hands Free” law, to help prevent accidents in our state.

As you can see from the picture in our blog, this law looks pretty complex, and there’s no shortage of legalese. What do you expect from a bunch of lawyers and politicians? 😉 Our goal though is to make it simple and understandable for you. So here’s what you need to know about what’s allowed and what’s not starting JULY 1st

First, let’s highlight what you can do:

  • Texting and talking is allowed so long as you are using hands-free technology;
  • A GPS or mapping application is fine in the background (FYI — Just don’t be actively inputting information)
  • Interestingly, CB radios are allowed along with commercial two way radios. Real quick: We’re wondering if you know of anybody that actually has one?

Second, what you can’t do:

  • Hold or support a phone or other device with any part of the body. You know how you used to prop a phone on your shoulders, etc.? Well…that’s now illegal in Georgia.
  • Writing, sending, and/or reading a text message, Facebook message, IM, e-mail or anything like it.
  • Watching a video or move (other than a GPS or mapping application) on your phone while driving in Georgia. Hate to break it:  But yes, that includes YouTube, which apparently was becoming more common in distracted driving accidents.
  • REMEMBER THIS TOO — Reaching for a device is also illegal under HB 673 if it means you’re not in a safe driving position or means you’ll have to take off your seatbelt to get your phone.

Of course, there are going to be some exceptions with this law, but they make sense for a number of reasons. For example, a person can use a phone to report a (1) traffic accident, (2) medical emergency, (3) fire, (4) crime, and (5) dangerous condition on the road.

One other thing too: You can use your hands if you are in a lawful parking space, like a grocery store or shopping center parking lot.

We sure hope you found this blog helpful about the new distracted driving law in Georgia, and hopefully, you don’t come across our page if you’ve been hurt in an accident by a distracted driver in Georgia. Let’s, instead, hope that our roads are a bit safer now for everyone in our state.

If you have any other questions about this law, feel free to give us a call about it. My direct number is (404) 566-8964. E-mails work too (kevin@patricktriallaw.com). Please always consider us a resource and friend to you!

What does “spoliation of evidence” mean under Georgia law?

Have you ever wondered what it actually meant when you heard the phrase “spoliation of evidence” under Georgia law? It’s a good question and a very important consideration in a case, especially one with camera footage and documents. We often times see it come up in semi-truck wrecks and premises liability cases here in Georgia, but before we go into the details, let’s begin by going over the black-letter law.

Spoliation is the “the destruction or failure to preserve evidence that is necessary to contemplated or pending litigation.”  FYI — The case to refer to for this basic principle is Phillips v. Harmon, 297 Ga. 386, 393 (2015)

Now keep in mind that there are three main components to it in Georgia:

First, spoliation means that a person or entity either destroyed or decided not to save evidence. For example, evidence can be in the form of a truck driver’s log books that showed (or perhaps didn’t) the driver taking the necessary breaks in the trip. Let’s say that the truck driver knew that he wasn’t following the highway safety standards and then shredded his logbooks right after an accident. That’s a pretty clear example of destroying evidence. Another less egregious, but still very harmful decision is deciding not to save evidence. It can be in the form of a store manager recording over camera footage of a slip-and-fall at a grocery store even though the manager understands that there may be a case against the store. A lot of times a person or company will make this decision to ‘get out of trouble,’ but it ends up creating exponentially more trouble down the road for them because Georgia law imposes very serious consequences, which we will talk more about in our next blog post.

Second, the evidence must be necessary to the litigation. In other words, it must serve an actual purpose in the case, i.e. a a truck driver’s log books show where and when he was traveling leading up to the truck accident. That’s clearly important! The video of a slip-and-fall is important to because it is the best evidence of the incident itself. Instead of making it a  “he said v. she said” argument, a jury can just watch the video of the slip-and-fall. There are somethings that obviously aren’t important to litigation so Georgia law doesn’t penalize a person or company for not saving them. Take this example: A person slips at the check-out lane of a grocery store. The back loading dock’s footage doesn’t have anything to do with the fall so the store won’t have to save it unless there is some unusual circumstance or reason. That’s only fair because it would place an undue burden on the store. You simply can’t save everything.

Third,  the person in control of the evidence must contemplate litigation or there must already be litigation, which basically means that the person understands that there could be or is a lawsuit. This area of Georgia law has changed a bit over the past couple of years. For those of you interested in the actual case, it’s Phillips v. Harmon, 297 Ga. 396 (2015). The Georgia Supreme Court has now held that as long as litigation, i.e. a lawsuit, is “reasonably foreseeable” a person or company has an affirmative duty to save documents, etc. One other thing to keep in mind is that this duty doesn’t just apply to possible defendants, but also to plaintiffs — the person bringing the lawsuit. For example, if a person is texting and driving and then gets into an automobile accident, then that person can’t delete those text messages either. At the end of the day, Georgia law wants to make sure that everyone is operating from the same basic set of facts.

We’ll talk a bit more about spoliation in our next blog too, but if you have any questions about it in the meantime, especially when it comes to truck accidents or slip-and-falls, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at kevin@patricktriallaw or (404) 566-8964. We’re here for you!

 

Accidents on Snowy & Icy Roads: What’s the law in Georgia?

With the winter weather covering our state, many people are probably wondering — What’s the law in Georgia when it comes to snow and ice on the roads, especially if there’s been car or semi-truck accident?  Well, let’s take a quick look at this area of the law:

HIGHWAYS AND ROADS

First things first, we need to look at the black-letter law in Georgia, which is codified under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180. This statute reads:

No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing. […], [E]very person shall drive at a reasonable and prudent speed […] with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions. (emphasis added)

So, what does this legalese really mean? You need to be careful and not drive too fast when you are traveling on icy and snowy roads here in Georgia. Notably, snow and ice among other cold-weather conditions cannot be used as an excuse by someone if there’s a car or semi-truck accident. Snow and ice are by nature a “hazard,” which loosely means a dangerous condition. Drivers are charged, i.e. put on notice, that roads can be potentially dangerous even if the driver doesn’t actually see the snow or ice. In other words, Georgia law holds drivers to a pretty high standard of care.

Another question also arises, but what if the other driver is going under the speed limit, and still there’s accident on the road? Georgia law, regardless, requires a person to drive at a “reasonable” speed, which doesn’t necessarily equate to driving the speed limit. Remember, the speed limit is the maximum speed (at least in theory) a person should drive on the road or highway.

There are other laws on the books in Georgia that can also come into play for accidents. You’ve all probably seen videos on the news of vehicles skidding through an intersection and getting into an accident. But, just because there is ice or snow near a stop-sign, a person still is responsible for coming to a complete stop. It’s technically O.C.G.A. § 40-6-72. Here are a few others too: You must maintain your lane (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48).  You still can’t follow someone else too closely (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49). [FYI – It’s a relative standard so please remember to keep extra space on days like today when you are on the road to avoid an accident.]

Second, a little tip: Insurance companies may try to deny claims if there’s not an accident report because it may turn into your word against their driver’s so make sure you report this accident right away and get an accident report.  The person bringing the automobile accident case has the burden of proof “beyond a preponderance of the evidence” so the testimony (N.B. the police report itself isn’t admissible evidence) of a responding officer may be critical for success. As a practical matter, do be prepared though to wait a while, if you can, because the police and fire departments are going to be stretched pretty thin with responding to accidents.

Most importantly, we hope you are safe and enjoying your snow day or perhaps couple of days. If you have any other questions abut accidents or need a bit more advice (but hopefully, you haven’t been in an accident in Georgia), feel free to give us a call at (404) 566-8964 or shoot me an e-mail at kevin@patricktriallaw.com.

What is a limited liability release?

There are generally two types of possible releases to sign after a you get close to settling a case in Georgia: A General Release and a Limited Liability Release. So what’s the difference between them? What one should I sign? What does a limited liability release look like? Well, let’s take each one of those questions in turn:

First things first, always be careful when an insurance company hands you a general release. A general release is a settlement document that settles virtually everything in a case. You are releasing absolutely everyone “known and unknown” that may have been responsible for your injuries. With a limited liability release, as the name suggests, you are limiting it to certain people or entities. For example, you may settle with one the person who caused the car accident, but can still go on to pursue your on UM, which means under/uninsured benefits through your insurance company.”

As a practical matter, second, your default should pretty much always be a Limited Liability Release given the risks of a signing a General Release. This situation often comes up in the context of an automobile accident with a ‘minimum limits’ at-fault driver. Georgia law only requires that people carry $25,000 in insurance coverage. If a person hits you and your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc. exceed that amount, a Limited Liability Release will be the way for you to come back to your own insurance company for compensation.

Finally, you probably are wondering exactly what a Limited Liability Release looks like in Georgia. Here’s a template of one (with our usual disclaimer that’s not offered for legal advice):

LIMITED RELEASE PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1

______________________, (“the UNDERSIGNED”), for and in consideration of the sum of ___________ ($__________), to the UNDERSIGNED, in hand paid, receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, does hereby and for the heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns of the UNDERSIGNED acquit, remise, release, and forever discharge:

(1)       _________ __________________ (“INSURANCE CARRIER”) with regard to Policy No. _______________; from any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, including but not limited to, all known and unknown bodily and personal injuries of the UNDERSIGNED, all hospital bills, doctor bills, drug bills, and other medical expenses, that belong to the UNDERSIGNED or which may hereafter accrue to the UNDERSIGNED on account of or resulting from the incident, casualty or event which occurred on or about ________________ near or around ______________(“INCIDENT”); and

(2)       _______________________  (“LIMITED RELEASEE”), except to the extent other insurance coverage is available which covers the claim or claims of the UNDERSIGNED against the LIMITED RELEASEE, from any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, including but not limited to, all known and unknown bodily and personal injuries of the UNDERSIGNED, all hospital bills, doctor bills, drug bills, and other medical expenses, that belong to the UNDERSIGNED or which may hereafter accrue to the UNDERSIGNED on account of or resulting from the INCIDENT.

All parties acknowledge that the payment referenced herein does not make whole nor fully compensate the UNDERSIGNED for losses sustained as a result of the INCIDENT.

This Limited Release is entered into pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1, and its force and effect shall be as contemplated by that statute.  This Limited Release does not release INSURANCE CARRIER with regard to other insurance policies issued to LIMITED RELEASEE or to any other person or entity, including the UNDERSIGNED, and the UNDERSIGNED maintains all rights to pursue recovery with regard to insurance policies not identified by policy number herein.

This Limited Release shall not release any persons or entities not specifically named.

All parties deny liability, and all parties may deny liability in any future action.

The UNDERSIGNED understands that the injuries sustained are or may be permanent and progressive and that recovery is uncertain and indefinite.  The UNDERSIGNED has relied wholly upon his or her own the judgment, belief and knowledge as to the nature, extent, effect and duration of said injuries and liability, if any, and such is made without reliance upon any statement or representation of any other person.  The UNDERSIGNED acknowledges that no promise, inducement, or agreement not herein expressed has been made and that this Limited Release contains the entire agreement between the parties.  The UNDERSIGNED is 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and laboring under no disabilities.  The foregoing representations are made in order for the parties released hereby to rely upon them in effecting this Limited Release.

The UNDERSIGNED acknowledges prior receipt of this Limited Release and that it is notice in writing of lack of consent of the LIMITED RELEASEE to this settlement and that the this Limited Release does not preclude the LIMITED RELEASEE from asserting claims against the UNDERSIGNED.

The UNDERSIGNED agrees to take reasonable steps to satisfy or otherwise resolve valid and enforceable liens accrued as a result of the UNDERSIGNED’s alleged injuries arising out of the INCIDENT and agrees to effect necessary probate matters, if any, in due course.

This ________ day of ___________, 20___.

___________________________

[Insert name of release]

Sworn to and subscribed before me,

This _____ day of _______, 20___.

____________________________

Notary Public

In short, be careful what you sign and talk to a lawyer first. We’re here to help so feel free to give us a call or send a message anytime: (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com

Pro Bono Representation: A Bond Forged between a Naval Officer and Trial Lawyer

Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.

 -Abraham Lincoln

Officer Motes’ Reflections:

I have always been given the short end of the stick as they say and being a veteran doesn’t make it any better. We are always praised for our years of service, but when in fact, we’re treated just the same and in some cases, very differently from the common civilian, which shouldn’t be the case for those individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice by serving for their country. When I was rear ended in a traffic accident in July of 2016, I was extremely skeptical about pursuing any action against the young man who caused the accident and his insurance carrier.  I was in pain, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to get the run-around by the big time lawyers from his insurance company so what’s the point of even trying.”

I was so happy that I decided to pull the trigger and move forward with my case. I honestly recommend any person, especially veterans, to consult with a lawyer before you make any decision. Lawyers know what they are doing and without a lawyer having my back and going the extra mile each day, I am sure that my outcome would have been much different (and not in a good way). My case was settled much faster and everything went smoothly. At the end of the day, I was able to sleep clearly because I knew I had a lawyer in my corner guiding me through this difficult time. Most people never think about getting a lawyer until something happens to them. I can truly say that I am a veteran who has been shown the right way to be treated by a lawyer.

 

Kevin Patrick’s Reflections:

Over the years, I have become accustomed to standing for the national anthem, thanking a soldier quietly at the airport, and making donations to wounded soldier projects. I never quite felt though like I knew a veteran on a personal level or understood the unique challenges facing veterans in our community. The words of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” began to resonate more and more with me with each and every passing day. As a trial lawyer, I longed for an opportunity to make an active and meaningful difference in the life of a veteran and help dispel the popular myth that lawyers prefer to advance their own self-serving agendas.

Officer Motes and I initially met under challenging circumstances in early-July of 2016. He was hurt because of an automobile collision. Despite this difficult situation, Officer Motes’ inherent qualities, like courage and loyalty, were very evident. Most importantly, Officer Motes embodied the naval motto: Non sibi, sed patriae. He always had and still would put his country above himself. Officer Motes taught me an important lesson about pro bono service that transcends all practice areas:  We have the ability to use our respective talents to give back to those individuals that are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect our Constitution. Veterans are not mere statistics, but rather they are very real people. On behalf of all layers, we salute you, Officer Motes.

Three Tips After an Automobile Accident

Over the years, we have developed four tips to help you and your loved ones after a car accident in Georgia. We know that there is a lot going through your mind right after an accident in Georgia. It’s scary! The police are arriving at the scene. The paramedics are coming too. Then, shortly after the accident, there are the seemingly endless calls from the insurance companies asking you for statements and oftentimes making you feel like you did something to cause the automobile accident, but when in reality you did absolutely nothing wrong. The truth: You need to take steps to protect yourself after an accident. These five steps will help guide you along the way after a car accident:

STEP ONE: CALL FOR EMERGENCY HELP AND GET AN ACCIDENT REPORT

Please call 911! We all know that the health and safety of everyone involved in the accident is far and away the most important thing after an automobile accident. It’s easy sometimes to feel guilty for calling for emergency help, especially if the at-fault driver in the accident, tells you that they accept responsibility and will pay for the damages to your vehicle. Far too often though, we have seen the situation play out where you leave the scene without calling the police and paramedics. The person that caused the accident then decides to change his or her story and then claim, “It wan’t my fault.” Without the accident report, the case already become much more difficult, i.e. your word against the other person’s story. The insurance companies will then use it to your disadvantage and may then try to reduce the offer in your case or perhaps even not make any offer to compensate you at all after the accident. We promise that by calling for emergency help you are doing the right thing after the car crash.

STEP TWO: TAKE PICTURES OF THE AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

These days, a cell phone is a useful tool for taking photos of the damage to all the vehicles and the car accident scene. Many times the insurance company and an adjuster will try to downplay the severity of the car accident, but the pictures are worth a million words. They will show the damage and impact from the collision. Most of us know to take pictures of the vehicles themselves, but there are other very important pictures. Look for skid-marks! Skid marks are crucial, especially in tractor -trailer cases, because they can be used to determine the precise speed of the vehicle or truck that collided with you. If there’s not skid-marks, then the other driver may have been really distracted right before the accident. We have encountered situations where the other driver was texting,  eating, or even sleeping just before hitting a car. Another though: Make sure you snap a picture of the license plate of any people that arrived on the scene because it’s a good way to track them down after the accident, especially if you forget their names or write down the wrong phone number in the moment. Stories change, but the facts don’t.

STEP THREE: UNDERSTAND INSURANCE INFORMATION

While you probably know that Georgia law requires all drivers to maintain automobile accident liability insurance, there is a very scary truth to it: Other drivers only have to carry the minimum limits of $25,000. This amount of insurance for a car accident may seem like a lot of money at first glance, but in reality, it’s pretty small. Think about this — A hospital stay alone or just one surgery can exceed this amount. So please make sure not only get the other driver’s insurance card and write down the name of the insurance company and policy number, but also definitely contact your insurance company because you need to know about your insurance. You should make sure you have UM insurance, which stands for “uninsured motorist” or “underinsured motorist,” to protect you and your family in this type of situation. A quick side note: Make sure your UM coverage is “add-on.” We will talk more about it in another post soon! Anyway, you (or your lawyer) do need to let you insurance  company know about the accident right away; otherwise, your insurance company may not honor you insurance policy with them after an accident. Whatever you do, don’t give a recorded statement to the other insurance company. It’s a trap! Georgia law does not require one despite what the insurance company may try to tell you.

Of course, you should also get professional help! Feel free to give us a call if you ever have any questions about your automobile accident in Georgia. We have handled these types of cases throughout the state whether in Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, Macon, Rome, and Savannah. You can always reach us at (404) 566-5880 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com.

Interrogatories in Automobile Accident Cases

Our first blog post in this series focused on Requests for Admission in automobile accident cases. You’ll remember that Requests for Admission ask the other party to admit or deny certain parts of the case. Interrogatories are a useful discovery tool. They are different though because they are asking the other party basically to provide a written response to questions, such as describing in their own words how he or she caused a car accident. Georgia law again can appear rather technical, as you can see from O.C.G.A. 9-11-33, but we are going to show you some general templates to help streamline this process for automobile accident cases.

O.C.G.A. 9-11-33: Interrogatories to Parties

(a) Availability; procedures for use.

(1) Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or a governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party; provided, however, that no party may serve interrogatories containing more than 50 interrogatories, including subparts, upon any other party without leave of court upon a showing of complex litigation or undue hardship incurred if such additional interrogatories are not permitted.

(2) Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

(b) Scope; use at trial.

(1) Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-26, and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence.

(2) An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or to the application of law to fact; but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pretrial conference or other later time.

(c) Option to produce business records. Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit, or inspection of such business records, or from a compilation, abstract, or summary based thereon, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to the interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit, or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts, or summaries.

Just like Requests for Admission in car accidents cases, a general template for Interrogatories is a good starting point, and then you can modify them for your specific case. Each case is unique so remember that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach so it’s important to contact a car accident attorney right away to help guide you through your case.

Here you go:

IN THE STATE COURT OF [INSERT] COUNTY

STATE OF GEORGIA

[INSERT YOUR NAME],

Plaintiff,

Civil Action File No.:

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

[INSERT DEFENDANT’S NAME],

Defendant.

PLAINTIFF’S FIRST CONTINUING INTERROGATORIES TO DEFENDANT

1.

State your full name, current address, current employer, date of birth, last four number of your social security number, and driver’s license number.

2.

State the name and address of any person, including any party, who to your knowledge information or belief:

(a)        Was an eyewitness to the incident underlying this litigation;

(b)     Has some knowledge of any fact or circumstance upon which your defense is                                     based; or,

(c)       Has conducted any investigation relating to the incident underlying this litigation or the background, employment, medical history or activities of the Plaintiff.

 3.

Identify any and all statements or reports given by any person identified in your response to Interrogatory No. 2.

 4.

Has any entity issued a policy of liability insurance to you or which is or arguably should be extending insurance coverage to you? If so, please state for each policy:

            (a)        The name of the insurer providing liability insurance;

            (b)       The limits of coverage;

            (c)        The name of the insured on the policy; and,

            (d)       The policy number.

 5.

Has any insurer referred to in your answer to Interrogatory No. 4 denied coverage or reserved its rights to later deny coverage under any such policy of liability insurance? If so, please explain.

 6.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs’ actions contributed to the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)      Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

             7.

If you intend to call any expert or technician as a witness at the trial of this action, for each expert or technician please:

            (a)        State the subject matter on which s/he is expected to testify;

            (b)       State in detail the opinions held by each such expert or technician; and,

            (c)        Give a complete summary of the grounds for each opinion held.

8.

Were you on the business of any individual or entity at the time of the subject incident? If so, please identify any such individual or entity, including name, address and telephone number.

9.

If you have ever been arrested or convicted of any crime (other than minor traffic offenses), even if that arrest or conviction has been removed from your record, please identify each crime or alleged violation, date of arrest, the arresting authority, the court in which any criminal proceeding against you was held, and the disposition of each charge.

10.

State each and every prior collision or prior insurance claim which you are aware of that the Plaintiffs have been involved in, or the Plaintiff has made, and state whether your agents have procured an ISO claims index report.

10.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries pre-existed the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)       Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)       Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

11.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs have uttered inconsistent statements with regard to material facts at issue in this litigation and identify:

(a)      Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)     Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those                             facts.

12.

If you contend that the Plaintiffs has been convicted of pled guilty to a crime of moral turpitude and/or felony, please identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

13.

What do you contend caused the incident underlying this litigation?

14.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that you are not the sole proximate cause of the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those  facts.

15.

Do you contend that you have been improperly named as a party to this action and/or that improper or incorrect agents for service were utilized to effectuate service upon you? If you answer to either of these inquiries is “yes,” please provide a detailed explanation as to why you contend that you have been improperly named or the agents used for service were improper and provide the complete and correct name of the entities or individuals you contend should have been named and/or served.

16.

Do you contend that venue is improper in this court, that jurisdiction is lacking over you in this Court, or that service of process has been deficient in this matter? If so, please describe and state with specificity all factual and legal basis supporting any such contention(s).

17.

With regard to the vehicle being operated by you at the time of the subject incident, please identify:

(a)        The owner of the vehicle;

(b)       The frequency with which you drove the vehicle;

(c)        Who paid for the gas and maintenance on the vehicle; and

(d)      If you did not own the vehicle, state whether or not you had the permission of the owner to be driving the vehicle at the time of the subject incident.

18.

Do you have a driver’s license? If so, please state when you first acquired any driver’s license, what type it is, and what are/were the restrictions on it.

19.

At any other time, either before or after the subject incident, have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence or for any other drug or alcohol related charge?

20.

Do you have a cell phone? If so, please state your cell phone number and the name of your cell phone provider.

21.

Please produce a privilege log identifying each and every document you contend is privileged and stating the particular privilege for each.

22.

For each request to admit that you denied, please identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts supporting your denial;

(b)       Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence facts supporting your denial; and,

(c)        Each fact upon which your denial is based.

24.

Describe in detail how the collision on [INSERT DATE] happened, stating in your answer all events relating thereto in their sequential order, including all actions taken by you to prevent the collision.

25.

State the name, web address, and user name for all blogs, online forums, and social networking websites that you have belonged to or had a membership in the prior twelve (12) months.

This _____ day of _________, ________.

Respectfully submitted,

____________________________________

[INSERT NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION]

We recognize that the key to a successful recovery in an automobile case is a clear discovery path and a willingness to bring your case to court. In fact, we used to represent insurance companies. Strong  discovery makes sure that those companies understand you are serious about getting the best result for your car accident. As always, feel free to contact us at (404) 566-5880 or information@patricktriallaw.com if you have any questions about your car accident and need legal assistance.