Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of being truthful in all testimony before the court. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper to dismiss a plaintiff’s case, based on the fact that he provided answers that were later determined to be misleading. Finding that the plaintiff’s answers were given with the intent to subvert the judicial process, the court held that the lower court was acting within its discretion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.
The case is important to Indiana car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the importance of a dedicated personal injury attorney who can advise a client on how to properly answer questions in a truthful manner without disclosing unnecessary facts that may ultimately harm their case.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that he claimed to have been caused by the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, and shoulder.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the parties began to exchange discovery. During the discovery phase, the defendant presented the plaintiff with a series of written questions for him to answer. Several of these questions asked whether the plaintiff had suffered any prior injuries to his neck, back, or shoulder. The plaintiff indicated that he had not.
The defendant asked the plaintiff to sign a medical release so that they could obtain a copy of his medical records. The plaintiff refused; however, the defendant was able to obtain the records by obtaining a subpoena. The plaintiff’s medical records indicated that he had received treatment for significant, unrelated injuries to his neck, back, and shoulder as recently as four months prior to the accident.
The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, arguing his misleading answers warranted such a sanction. The trial court initially denied the motion after the plaintiff responded that he had signed a medical release and did not intend to mislead the defendant or the court. However, upon a rehearing, the court was made aware that the plaintiff did not sign the release and had in fact refused to do so. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion on rehearing. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The court explained that the dismissal of a plaintiff’s case is an extreme sanction, but it is appropriate to safeguard the judicial process from attempts to subvert it. Here, the court explained, the plaintiff evidenced a clear intent to subvert the judicial process, not just by providing misleading answers but also by being untruthful to the court in stating that he signed the medical release.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, the dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse may be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. At Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we have decades of combined experience representing Indiana accident victims and know what it takes to be successful on our clients’ behalf, while always remaining within the ethical bounds of the profession. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule your free consultation today.
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