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New Mexico Court Denies Plaintiff’s Motions in Lawsuit Following Car Accident, Finds She Had Not Been Forthcoming Regarding Medical History, But Dismissal Not Appropriate

| May 12, 2017 | Car Crashes, Personal Injury

At issue in a recent appeal before a New Mexico District Court was whether the plaintiff had deliberately misled the court into suspecting she lied about her car accident injuries. In their analysis, the court discussed whether evidence submitted by a physician who had examined the plaintiff should be stricken from the record.  Additionally, the court assessed whether there remained a genuine issue of material fact or whether the plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment regarding a claim that the insurance company breached their duty by denying her the value of her claim.

The underlying accident in this case was a rear-end collision, which allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injuries to her neck and back.  She made a claim with her own insurance for medical payments after the accident.  Eventually, the plaintiff settled her third-party claim against the at-fault driver for $43,000.

The plaintiff’s attorney sent a letter to the plaintiff’s insurer, stating that the settlement for $43,000 barely covered her medical expenses and did not fully compensate her for past and future pain and suffering.  After reviewing the medical records, the insurance company offered $1,000 for the plaintiff’s bodily injury claim.  Eventually, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the insurance company for a breach of its insurance duties, alleging, among other allegations, that by offering only $1,000 for her past and future pain and suffering and her future medical payments, they breached their contractual duty to provide underinsured coverage.

The defendant insurance company sent the plaintiff interrogatories related to her physical and mental medical history before the accident.  Older medical records, discovered by the defendant insurer, showed the plaintiff had a history of sciatica pain. During her deposition, the plaintiff testified that before the accident, she had been asymptomatic, and she had not committed fraud because the sciatica pain she suffered was different from the back pain she currently had.

First, the court addressed the plaintiff’s motion to strike the affidavit of the physician who stated she received spinal injections in 2011.  She argued that this fact was not within the medical records. In essence, she claimed that his affidavit deliberately misled the court into suspecting she had lied about the vehicle collisions causing sciatica and also had lied that her sciatica had not existed before the car accident. In response, the defendant argued that the affidavit was foundationally and legally sound.

According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court that finds a party has submitted an affidavit in bad faith or to create a delay can order that party to pay expenses or subject them to other sanctions, including striking affidavits.

Here, the court stated that they were not convinced the defendant submitted the physician’s affidavit in bad faith or for purposes of delay.  The court did note that the plaintiff had highlighted grounds that potentially undermined the credibility of the physician’s conclusions, but the potential errors, according to the court, did not show bad faith or an attempt to delay the proceedings.

The court held that the plaintiff should have more clearly disclosed her history of chiropractic care in the interrogatories.  However, the court stated that dismissal, as a sanction, was not warranted because the facts did not outweigh the strong interest in resolving cases on their merits.

As a plaintiff in a lawsuit following a car accident, it is imperative to provide truthful, honest claims for recovery.  Attorney Matthew Vance is experienced in representing injured individuals and their families throughout Albuquerque and New Mexico as they file claims for compensation following a car accident.  Our office provides a free, no-obligation consultation and can be reached by phone at 505-445-1604 or by completing our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Bifurcation Not Mandated in Lawsuit by Insured Plaintiff against her Insurance Company Following Car Accident, According to New Mexico Court, New Mexico Injury Lawyer Blog, March 29, 2017

New Mexico Supreme Court Holds that Fraudulent Concealment May Apply to Wrongful Death Actions; Defendants Cannot Benefit from Concealing a Cause of Action and Asserting the Statute of Limitations as a Defense, New Mexico Injury Lawyer Blog, February 21, 2017