The legal process for personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York can be long, confusing and difficult. I work hard to make that process work for my clients by squeezing out every day to shorten the process as much as possible. I also work hard to keep my clients up to date on all activities with their cases and to educate them about the process so it is less confusing.
I have used this blog to explain the various steps in the legal process. Today, I will write about the Bill of Particulars that a plaintiff must send in response to the defendant’s Demand for a Bill of Particulars.
Filing a Lawsuit: The Summons and Complaint
One begins a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit in New York by filing two documents with the courts: the summons and complaint. When doing so, an attorney purchases an index number from the court (at a cost of $210). With the purchase of the index number, the attorney registers the case with the court.
The Complaint states the basis for the lawsuit in very general terms. The Summons requires the defendant to respond. You can learn more about starting a lawsuit in New York in the article: Filing a Lawsuit in New York: The Summons and Complaint.
The Defendant’s Response to the Summons and Complaint
The defendant has thirty days (only twenty days if they received the Summons and Complaint via personal service) to respond to the Summons and Complaint. They respond with two documents:
- Answer to the Complaint
- Demand for a Bill of Particulars
In the Answer to the Complaint, the defendant responds to the allegations made in the Complaint. In the Answer, the defendant can admit or deny the allegations, claim a lack of knowledge or assert an affirmative defense. In the Demand for a Bill of Particulars, the defendant asks for more details about the case from the plaintiff. You can read more about these documents in the article, “The Initial Response by a Defendant to a Lawsuit in New York: The Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint the Demand for a Bill of Particulars.”
The Bill of Particulars
Once I receive the Demand for a Bill of Particulars, I need to prepare and respond with a Bill of Particulars. To do so, I list each of the questions raised in the Demand for the Bill of Particulars and then I provide a response. The answers generally take one of three forms:
- Providing an answer to the question asked.
- Explaining that we lack sufficient information to answer the question.
- Objecting to the question.
We can provide an answer and I generally try to do so. The quicker we respond and the sooner we answer the defense questions, the faster we can move the case. However, there are certain exceptions to this approach.
We can object to the question if the defense seeks more information than is necessary or legal, if the question is not specific enough or if they ask for information to which they are not entitled. In those instances, I will file an objection and not answer the question.
We can object to the question if the question is unclear or not specific enough. In those instances, I will file an objection and not answer the question.
If we object to certain questions, the defense can accept our objection. Sometimes the defense will follow up with a letter that alters the questions in a way that we find acceptable. Sometimes the defense will wait until we meet with a judge at a preliminary conference and ask the judge to determine if we must answer the question.
While we have thirty days to respond to a Demand for a Bill of Particulars, I try to answer as soon as possible both as a demonstration of our preparedness and to move the case along as quickly as possible. Cases in New York can take up to two years to come to trial, and sometimes longer if there are many motions. It troubles me when defense firms or the courts move slowly simply because no one is paying particular attention to a case. Therefore, I look for every opportunity to move a case along. A week here and a week there, starts adding up to many months saved.
Next Steps: The Discovery Phase
Once we exchange the Bill of Particulars, we can move onto the next phase of the trial: Discovery. During Discovery, both sides can request evidence, testimony and information relevant to the case. You can read more about this phase in the article, “What Happens in the Discovery Phase of a Case?”. The Discovery phase includes depositions and the defendant’s medical exam. To learn more about those events, you may want to read the articles, “What is a Deposition and How Can I Prepare for a Deposition?” and “What is the Defendant’s Medical Exam (DME)?”
I hope you have found this information helpful. I do need to remind you that this information offers general guidelines. If you have questions about a specific case, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York. I will be glad to answer your questions and assist you. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.