Massachusetts Court Discusses Discovery in Car Accident Cases

The popularity of ride-sharing applications has increased exponentially in recent years, and people throughout Massachusetts regularly employ them to get to their destination. People who drive for ride-sharing companies have the same obligations as other motorists, but like other motorists, they are often involved in collisions. People hurt in such crashes may seek compensation not only from the driver but also from the company the driver was working for at the time of the incident, but such companies are often reluctant to admit liability and may engage in actions that frustrate the discovery process.

Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what information is discoverable in federal action against a ride-sharing company in a matter in which the company refused to respond to discovery requests. If you were hurt in a car crash, you might be owed damages, and it is advisable to confer with a trusted Massachusetts car accident attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was walking when he was struck by the defendant driver. He suffered personal injuries and subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant driver and the defendant ride-sharing company. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver operated the car under the authority and control of the defendant company. He also alleged that the defendant driver was the defendant company’s employer and the defendant company was vicariously liable for the defendant driver’s negligence.

Allegedly, the plaintiff propounded discovery requests upon the defendant company. The defendant company declined to respond to the requests and moved for a protective order, arguing that they were burdensome and harassing. In turn, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant company to respond.

Discovery in Federal Personal Injury Cases

Discovery in federal matters is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provide, in part, that parties may obtain discovery on any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to a party’s defense or claim and is proportionate to the needs of the case, in consideration of the ease of access to the information, the importance of the information sought, and whether the burden of producing the information outweighs its benefit.

A party from whom discovery is sought can move for an order to protect them from oppression, annoyance, or undue expense or burden. Similarly, the Rules allow parties to move to compel responses to such requests. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s requests centered around the issue of whether the defendant driver was an employee of the defendant company, and therefore were relevant to the core issues of the case. Thus, to the extent the plaintiff sought such information, his requests were permitted.

Consult an Experienced Massachusetts Attorney

Companies that permit negligent drivers to operate vehicles on their behalf may be deemed responsible for any damages that the drivers cause. If you were hurt in a car accident, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney regarding your potential claims.  Attorney John S. Moffa of the Law Offices of John S. Moffa is adept at helping injured parties fight to protect their interests, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Moffa through the online form or by calling 508-362-5554 to set up a consultation.


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