Discovery, the process by which the parties to a lawsuit gather evidence from outside sources, is an essential element in establishing liability and damages in car accident cases. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the procedural requirements and the rules of evidence applicable to this process. This article will focus on another aspect of litigation that occurs before the trial begins – filing pretrial motions on the plaintiff’s behalf. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile crash, contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
Pretrial motions are requests made to the court to potentially resolve issues before a trial begins. We have previously discussed pretrial motions commonly filed by the defendant in car accident litigation. These often include motions to dismiss a lawsuit against a party or motions to move a case to another venue. In many cases, the plaintiff’s counsel will file pretrial motions as well. Such motions may be designed to amend the original complaint, seek an extension of a filing deadline, or exclude evidence or testimony that the other side wishes to use at trial. Attorneys for each side have the opportunity to oppose motions and, if appropriate, the court may schedule hearings for each attorney to argue their position to the judge. The grant or denial of pretrial motions can have a significant impact on the direction and outcome of a case.
Consider the following examples. The defendant’s attorney seeks to admit testimony taken during a deposition of a purported expert witness. The expert is providing information about the weather conditions at the time of the accident. After examining the witness’s credentials, the plaintiff’s attorney learns that the expert is a chemist with no actual skills qualifying him to testify about the weather. Plaintiff’s counsel files a motion to exclude the testimony on these grounds. In another case, the plaintiff had previously been charged with two DUIs. At the time of the accident in question, he had not been drinking. The plaintiff’s attorney anticipates that defense counsel will use this information to skew the jury’s opinion of the plaintiff. Because this information is irrelevant and potentially harmful to the current car accident litigation, the plaintiff’s lawyer files a motion in limine to prevent the introduction of such evidence at trial.
Given their potential impact on a case, pretrial motions can become contentious and involve complex legal theories, multiple pleadings, and court hearings. It is essential to retain a law firm with litigation experience and that understands how to navigate the pretrial motion process. If you need assistance with a car accident lawsuit, we recommend contacting a firm with sufficient resources to handle your case, an on-staff investigator and that is Board Certified in Personal Injury Law. This is true in Fort Worth, Dallas, and elsewhere in Texas.