Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts on Written Discovery: Describing the Injury

I hate working on discovery, specifically I hate working on our client's answers to interrogatories in a personal injury case. Namely because the client does not under how to appropriately answer a question like "State your name, address and current occupation". In other words, the client gives me a steaming pile from the dog and I am forced to turn it into gold.

Or at least something resembling English.

One of the standard questions is to describe the injuries that the Plaintiff suffered. It's not rocket science. Or at least I didn't think so until I had one client give me 12 single spaced pages detailing her injuries in excruciating (and irrelevant) detail. None of which could be disclosed to the other side at this point in the litigation process. I can't have defense counsel discover the total sum of crazy that my client possesses. Thus, I had to re-write and re-focus her answer.

Thankfully, I was able to do so without too much effort. I turned her twelve page narrative into:

I suffered injuries to my neck and back. Investigation continues.
Succinct and accurate all the while allowing for a brain aneurism that happens six months from now to be appropriately related back to this simple slip and fall. Everything else can be left to a deposition. Interrogatories won't win you the case, they can, however, cost you dearly.

But the clients never understand that.

After I sent the final draft of the interrogatories to the client to sign (mind you, I had already sent them off to opposing counsel), I ended up spending two weeks dealing with the drama of how I failed to accurately portray the pain and suffering. She threaten to fire my firm (unfortunately, she did not).

These are the things that I deal with on a daily basis. For those of you that haven’t experienced this sort of fun, I want to give you a screen shot of one my client’s answers to this simple question:

In full disclosure, my client is an isosceles triangle...