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Truck Accident Discovery | Request for Documents

Documents Files The process of litigating personal injury lawsuits involves several steps, some of which happen in every case, such as filing the complaint that initiates a lawsuit. Other steps happen only infrequently or even rarely, such as trials -- the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are resolved long before cases reach a courtroom. One of the most important steps in litigating a personal injury lawsuit is the discovery process in which plaintiffs and defendants formally exchange evidence that proves or disproves their claims. A particularly important element in truck accident discovery is the request for production of documents.

The types of discovery tools available are the same for all personal injury claims, including written interrogatories, requests for admissions, oral depositions, document subpoenas, and requests for production of documents. The specific tools that are used, however, may vary significantly from one type of case to another. Requests for production of documents are particularly useful in truck accident discovery, because the typical truck accident case involves a truck driver and their employer, and exploring the documentary evidence the employer may have about the driver's training, experience, prior driving history, etc., will often substantiate claims of improper hiring, training, and supervision by the employer.

Elements of a Request for Production of Documents

Any type of discovery in a personal injury lawsuit will be governed by specific laws that establish the rules and procedures for discovery. In California, those laws are primarily contained in the section of the California Code of Civil Procedure referred to as the Civil Discovery Act, which begins at Section 2016 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The rules to be followed for a request for production of documents begin at CCP Section 2031.010 and describe how the request must be issued and how the recipient party must respond. These rules include:

  • When a request for production may be issued. At any time by a defendant, and by a plaintiff at least 10 days after the defendant is served with summons or has made a voluntary appearance.
  • The general format for the request for production and how to itemize specific requests.
  • The time limits for the recipient of the request for production to respond. Generally, 30 days after the request is served, with an extension if it's not served personally (such as by mail).
  • How the recipient must respond to each specific request.
  • How disputes over requests, responses, and objections may be resolved by the court.

The actual documents that are provided in response to a request for production of documents in truck accident discovery or any typical personal injury action are usually copies either on electronic media or hardcopy paper.

Important Documents for Truck Accident Discovery

As we noted above, requests for production of documents in truck accident discovery will usually focus on the relationship between the truck driver and their employer trucking company. Although the employer will generally be liable for injuries negligently caused by their employee while on the job under the doctrine of "respondeat superior," additional or stronger liabilities may be proven if the employer itself can be shown to have been negligent in its hiring, training, management, supervision, etc., of its employee. Evidence that may support these types of claims are typically what an experienced personal injury attorney will focus on discovering by using a request for production of documents in truck accident discovery.

The items that are typically requested for production include:

  • The driver/employee's personnel and human resources files
  • The driver's application for employment and documents submitted with the application
  • Any examination or investigative records acquired to qualify the driver for employment
  • Records of formal job training, either pre-hire or post-hire
  • The driver's pre-hire driving record (which the employer should have acquired)
  • Periodic post-hire copies of the driver's driving record
  • Any job-related medical exam records, drug testing records, etc. for the driver during employment
  • Records of any accidents, traffic citations, or other driving incidents during employment
  • Driving logs prior to the incident
  • Any documents related to the cargo being carried at the time of the accident and the trip underway at the time
This list is not exhaustive -- rather, it's just a starting point for exploring the typically extensive documentation that needs to be thoroughly reviewed as part of truck accident discovery. View this video about training truck drivers during a nationwide truck driver shortage:Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer

My name is Ed Smith, and I am a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer. Truck accidents are often substantially different from passenger car accidents for two reasons. First, the sheer size of the trucks involved means that truck accidents are much more likely to cause serious injuries or even death; second, truck accident cases are more complex, because they involve both truck drivers and their employers, meaning that truck accident discovery to explore the driver-employer relationship is also much more complicated. If you or a family member has suffered an injury in a truck accident, please give us a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. You can also reach us at our online contact form.

I am proud to belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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