You may have heard that depositions are the driving force of a personal injury lawsuit’s discovery process. However, interrogatories and requests for admission are two additional tools that personal injury victims should leverage before a trial. In particular, requests for admission are incredibly helpful in uncovering crucial information before either party takes the witness stand.
A request for admission (also called a request to admit) is a written statement sent from one party to the other. Its purpose is for the receiving party to admit or deny the allegations against them. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about requests for admissions, including how they can affect your personal injury case, as well as sample defendant and plaintiff requests for admission.
What Are Requests for Admissions?
Requests for admission are written requests sent during the discovery process of a lawsuit. During discovery, the Plaintiff (typically the injured party) and the Defendant (the alleged at-fault party) attempt to uncover as much information about the case as possible. Requests for admissions are a convenient way for each party to admit or deny allegations brought against them.
For example, the Plaintiff may send the Defendant a request for admission that states, “Admit that the front of the vehicle you were operating struck the front of the vehicle the Plaintiff was operating on the date of the car crash.”
Both parties may send each other requests for admission. By sending written requests to one another, each party can better understand how the other side views the accident.
For instance, the Plaintiff may assume no fault in an accident. However, the Defendant may allege that the Plaintiff was speeding. Requests for admission ask these types of questions flat out, so there is no confusion as to each party’s opinions of fact.
How Are Requests for Admission Different from Interrogatories?
Requests for admission and interrogatories fall under the same umbrella of discovery. They are both written statements sent from one party to the other, and they both require written answers. However, there are some clear differences between the two.
Personal injury interrogatory answers are signed under oath. Requests for admission are not. Furthermore, interrogatories are questions, but they’re phrased as statements to be elaborated upon.
The same is not true of requests for admissions. Requests for admission are short, direct questions and their answers can either “admit” or “deny” the opinions of fact.
When answering interrogatories, you should provide as much information as possible. When answering requests for admission, all you should do is either admit or deny the claim.
Requests for admission are not about providing details. Details are found during depositions and interrogatories. Questions that linger after the completion of depositions and interrogatories can be turned into requests to admit, forcing the other party to clarify the issue before trial.
How Do Admissions Aid a Personal Injury Case?
There are three sides to every personal injury case: what the Plaintiff believes happened, what the Defendant believes happened, and what actually happened. This is not to say that either party is intentionally lying, but rather, each individual has a different perception of the same event. The purpose of a request for admission is to identify and narrow down the genuine issues of what occurred, as these events will inform the verdict of the case.
Requests for admission are particularly helpful in nailing down the primary or proximate cause of an accident. For instance, if the Defendant was driving above the speed limit at the time of the accident and failed to slow down, causing the car accident that injured the Plaintiff, the Defendant’s speeding could be found as the proximate cause of the accident.
Requests for admission can pose statements such as, “Admit you were driving above the speed limit.” Or, “Admit that your driving speed was a contributing factor to the accident.” Any statements that the Defendant admits to (or doesn’t object to or deny) are established as fact and are taken as true for the duration of the trial.
What Types of Requests for Admission Are Included in a Case?
The types of requests for admissions included in a personal injury case vary depending on the situation. For example, requests included in a slip and fall injury case are much different than the ones involved in a truck accident or dog bite injury case.
Instead of trying to lump all types of requests together, it’s better to view them as a collection of factual statements. Each factual statement will form the burden of proof for your case. In Arizona’s civil procedure, the burden of proof is on the Plaintiff. Therefore, it’s their legal duty to establish the truth before the trial.
Depending on your personal injury case, there are a variety of requests for admission you may submit to establish the truth.
Plaintiff Sample Requests for Admissions (Sent to Defendant)
Throughout a personal injury case, the Plaintiff and their legal team send requests for admission to the Defendant, in hopes the answering party will admit their wrongdoing.
In an auto accident injury case, the Plaintiff is the injured driver. The Defendant is who the Plaintiff believes caused the injuries. Some of the sample requests for admission that the Plaintiff may send the Defendant include:
- Admit that you were driving a 2018 Ford with Arizona motor vehicle tags on the date of the car crash.
- Admit that you were the registered owner of a 2018 Ford with Arizona motor vehicle tags on the date of the car crash.
- Admit that on the date of the car crash immediately prior to impact, the vehicle operated by Plaintiff was in the oncoming lane.
- Admit that on the date of the car crash immediately prior to impact, you failed to negotiate a turn.
- Admit that your actions were the sole cause of the car crash.
If you are the Plaintiff in an upcoming personal injury trial, it’s your attorney’s responsibility to outline and send these questions to the individual who harmed you. If you have not sought legal counsel, consider contacting an attorney today to learn more about your options.
Defendant Sample Requests for Admissions (Sent to Plaintiff)
During the civil procedure, the Defendant must defend themselves against the allegations brought against them. One way for an individual to stand up for themselves in court is to send requests for admission to the Plaintiff. The Defendant can use these requests to shift the blame, share the blame, or dismiss the case entirely.
Continuing with the auto accident personal injury example, the Defendant’s requests for admission may include:
Confirm the only witnesses to the accident were the Plaintiff, Defendant, and an unidentified man who let the Plaintiff use his cell phone at the scene of the accident.
- Admit you were traveling too fast for the weather conditions.
- Admit you consumed drugs, medicines, or alcoholic beverages within twenty-four (24) hours prior to said occurrence.
- Confirm you were under the care of a physician at the time of the occurrence.
- Admit you maintained insurance that covers your liability in this lawsuit.
Throughout requests for admission, the opposing party’s attorney may attempt to undermine the events of the accident or cast doubt on how those events took place.
While requests for admission only require an “Admit” or “Deny” response, it’s crucial you consult with an attorney before submitting your responses to ensure you don’t find yourself in legal hot water.
How Many Requests Can Be Submitted?
Unlike interrogatories, there’s no limit to the number of requests a party in a personal injury case can serve. Requests can pertain to any matter within the scope of the discovery process. These include requests related to discoverable facts, opinions, the application of the law to facts, and the genuineness of documents.
Bear in mind, if a party receives a request for admission that includes the mention of a document, federal rules dictate the production of documents for confirmation.
Requests to admit can be served at any time, even as early as the complaint initiating the lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to Respond to Requests?
When requests for admission are served with the initial complaint, rules of civil procedure determine the responding party has 45 days to submit a written answer. If requests are sent once the case is underway, the answering party has 30 days to respond. If no responses are submitted within the timeframe, then all statements included in the request are deemed “admitted” by the court.
Responding to Requests for Admission Examples
When responding to a set of requests for admission, the opposing party can do any of the following:
- Admit the entire statement
- Deny the entire statement
- Partially deny the statement
- State that they have a lack of information to confirm or deny the statement
The responding party only has to answer “Admit” or “Deny.” If a statement is admitted to, it is treated as fact for all purposes in the litigation. So, if the opposing party admits to driving above the speed limit at the time of the accident, the court considers that statement a fact. If the opposing party denies the statement, the merits of the action contained within that request can be argued during the trial.
Aside from “Admit” or “Deny,” there is the option to “Partially Deny” a statement. For instance, the responding party may partially deny a statement that accuses them of reckless driving if they were only driving 5 miles above the posted speed limit at the time of the accident.
If the responding party partially denies a statement, they must specify which part of the matter is admitted and which part is denied.
Moreover, the responding party can respond that they lack sufficient information to admit or deny a statement. But first, the responding party or their legal team must issue a reasonable inquiry to the requesting party, asking for more information. If the information obtained is still insufficient to admit or deny the statement, they can clear their response with the court, or wait for any following requests.
Seek Your Consultation from a Personal Injury Law Firm
Constructing a winning personal injury case is no easy task, especially if you’re not a legal professional. Before drafting, answering, or sending requests for admissions on your own, consider reaching out to a trusted personal injury law firm. Building a strong attorney-client relationship can not only help you plan the most successful application of law, but it can also make sending and receiving crucial personal injury admissions a whole lot easier.