People who suffer the loss of a loved one due to a fatal car accident will often choose to pursue damages from the driver that caused the accident. The defendant driver’s testimony is often key to establishing liability, as in many instances, there are no other witnesses who can describe what transpired. Thus, the courts will generally uphold the right of a plaintiff to depose the defendant in a car accident case, as explained in a recent Florida opinion. If you lost a loved one in a fatal collision, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Florida car accident attorney to discuss your options.
The Procedural History
It is alleged that the defendant driver, who worked for the defendant college, was driving the student rowing team in a van when he made a left turn into oncoming traffic. A car driven by the plaintiff’s decedent struck the van. The decedent ultimately suffered deadly injuries. Several of the van’s passengers were fatally harmed as well. The plaintiff then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.
Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant driver to sit for a deposition. The defendant driver’s attorney filed a motion for a protective order, arguing that he suffered from extensive psychological and physical disabilities due to the accident and could not participate in his own defense or testify at a deposition. The plaintiff opposed the defendant driver’s motion, arguing that it was not justified and that if it was granted, it would significantly prejudice his rights.
The Right to Depose a Defendant
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court can, for good cause, issue an order that protects a party from the undue expense, burden, embarrassment, or oppression. To establish that a protective order is warranted, the moving party must specifically show that harm will occur if it is not granted. In other words, the party must set forth facts in support of the request, rather than merely asserting conclusory statements or speculation.
Vague allegations of harm that are not substantiated by specific examples are not sufficient, and a court must weigh competing factors to evaluate whether the moving party has demonstrated good cause. The court elaborated that the burden of proof in a case where the moving party seeks to prevent a deposition is especially onerous and requires proof of extraordinary circumstances. In the subject case, the defendant driver’s counsel argued that he was medically unfit to sit for a deposition because it might cause him psychological harm. The court found that this was insufficient to meet the heavy burden and denied the defendant’s motion.
Meet with a Skillful Florida Attorney
People who carelessly cause fatal collisions should be held accountable for the devastation they cause. If you lost a loved one because of a deadly car accident, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer about your rights. Jarrett Blakeley is a skillful Florida car accident attorney with the knowledge and resources needed to help you pursue the full amount of compensation you may be owed under the law. You can reach Mr. Blakeley by calling (800) 602-5000 or by using our form online to set up a meeting.