A subpoena is an order that a court issues to compel a third party to produce information relevant to a case. The right subpoena can strengthen your case by getting you relevant evidence.
How It Works
A subpoena typically takes either of these two forms.
1. Request for Testimony
In this case, you want the third party to testify in a deposition or trial. Say you are the victim of a road rage accident, and a driver who witnessed the incident is reluctant to air their views. With the help of your lawyer, you may get a subpoena to compel the driver to testify.
2. Request for Documents
A typical accident case involves various forms of documentary evidence. Examples include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Maintenance records
- Accident photos
In some cases, the person who possesses these documents might be reluctant to produce them. Say a security camera captured your accident, but the camera's owner is dragging their feet whenever you request the footage. You can use a subpoena to compel the person to produce the relevant footage.
People use different tactics if they don't want to honor subpoenas. Below are some of these tactics.
You must serve the relevant party before they can honor the subpoena. A third party who suspects that you are about to serve them with a subpoena might play hide-and-seek games with you. They might refuse to take your calls or open their doors for you.
Claiming Undue Burden
The court will only enforce a subpoena if it doesn't create an undue burden on the third party. Undue burden refers to unusual difficulties or expenses. For example, you shouldn't expect someone to interrupt their medical treatment to testify on your behalf. Thus, someone who wishes to avoid a subpoena might claim an undue burden.
A witness can also object to your subpoena by claiming that the request is unreasonable. For example, a subpoena that requires the witness to produce numerous documents within a short time is unreasonable.
Claiming Protected Information
Lastly, you should know that a subpoena won't work with some forms of information. Some information is privileged or protected. For example, laws protect information that can violate other people's rights or put their lives in danger.
How a Lawyer Can Help
You only need a subpoena if the person with the information you want is being difficult. Thus, you should use a lawyer to ensure you don't waste further time getting the information you need. Below are some ways a lawyer can help.
Creating the Subpoena Form
There is specific information that subpoenas must have. Different courts also have different subpoena forms. A lawyer can help you create a subpoena that the court will accept.
Modifying the Subpoena
In some cases, you may need to modify a subpoena to get the information you want. Say a witness is claiming unreasonableness or undue burden. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer can modify the subpoena to remove the objectionable parts so that the witness has no option but to accept it.
Serving the Third Party
As previously mentioned, some people will go to great lengths to avoid subpoena service. Experienced lawyers have useful tactics for serving such people. Some lawyers even have private investigators to locate witnesses who don't want to be found.
Injury cases are rarely the same. Even if two people suffer similar injuries, their cases will require approaches unique to their circumstances. Palmetto Injury Lawyers LLC can help you get a subpoena or strengthen your case in other ways. Contact us for a free initial consultation to determine how best to get you the settlement you deserve.