In a personal injury case, each party often needs to share vital information with one another during the course of a lawsuit. This process of sharing information between parties begins during the pre-trial stages and is known as "discovery." There are certain pieces of evidence and information that each party needs to share, and there are some bits of evidence that are confidential. If one party is unwilling to share information with the other, the other party might consider filing a motion to compel.
A motion to compel is basically an instruction from the court requiring one party to take certain actions. In most cases, this relates to discovery and to the providing of legal documents in preparation for trial. However, it can refer to other actions, such as producing a witness, making certain statements, and other acts.
A motion to compel might cover acts such as:
- Requiring a party to produce documents and other evidence
- Requiring a party to share certain information with the other side, such as hospital bills, car repair bills, etc.
- Requiring a person to respond to interrogatories and other questions
- Providing an expert witness
If a motion to compel is disobeyed, it can lead to consequences such as: another, more serious court order; fines or fees; other different procedural rulings that may affect the outcome of a case.
In many states, motions to compel are usually requested after the plaintiff makes their initial complaint. Once the complaint is filed, some states impose a time limit in which discovery can take place, and in which motions to compel can be filed. Some states don’t impose any time limits at all. The experience of a lawyer may be needed for issues such as filing a motion to compel.
Personal lawsuits can often be quite complex. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need help with a lawsuit. Your attorney can assist you with the specific procedural rules in your area and can represent you in a court of law.