Massachusetts Court Discusses Information Discoverable in Car Accident Cases

Many Massachusetts residents regularly use ride-sharing apps to travel from one point to another. Ride-share drivers, like all Massachusetts motorists, have a duty to drive in a safe manner. Regardless, they do not always uphold their duties and frequently cause crashes. People injured in accidents with ride-sharing drivers can usually recover damages from the driver but recovering compensation from the company they drive for can prove more challenging. In a recent Massachusetts case, a court assessed what information a party pursuing claims a ride-sharing company can obtain via discovery in an effort to support their claims. If you were hurt in a collision, it is wise to meet with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your potential claims.

The Subject Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff, who was walking down a street, was hit by the defendant driver, who was operating a vehicle on behalf of the defendant ride-sharing company. The plaintiff sustained critical harm in the crash. As such, he filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the defendants. As to the defendant ride-sharing company, he alleged that it was the defendant driver’s employer and therefore was vicariously liable for the defendant driver’s acts,

It is reported that the plaintiff served the defendant ride-sharing company with discovery requests. The defendant ride-sharing company refused to answer the plaintiff’s discovery requests, however, and filed a motion for a protective order, stating that the requests constituted harassment and were burdensome. The plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant to respond to his requests.

Information Discoverable in Car Accident Cases

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dictate discovery in personal injury matters filed in the district courts. Among other things, the rules state that a party can seek information on any topic that is relevant to their claim or defense, as long as it is not privileged and is in proportion to the needs of the subject action. In evaluating whether a discovery request is appropriate, the courts will weigh the parties’ access to the data sought, it’s importance, and whether the benefit of the requesting party receiving the information surpasses the burden of requiring the opposing party to produce it.

Parties can object to discovery requests on the basis that they are burdensome, oppressive, annoying, or would require them to expend excessive costs. Parties can also move to compel answers to requests they previously served on another party. Here, the court ruled that the plaintiff’s discovery sought information on the matter of whether the defendant driver worked as an employee or independent contractor of the defendant company. As such, the requests were relevant to the plaintiff’s claims. The court, therefore, denied the defendant’s motion and granted the plaintiff’s.

Talk to an Experienced Massachusetts Attorney

If you suffered harm due to the negligence of another party, you may be able to recover damages in a civil lawsuit, and you should talk to an attorney. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who can inform you of your potential claims and help you seek any damages you may be owed. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a conference.