A California Appeals Court recently reached a decision in a car accident case clarifying the extent to which a defendant can require a plaintiff to submit to a particular kind of examination during the course of a personal injury lawsuit. The case involved a lower court’s decision to allow the defendant to have the plaintiff undergo a vocational rehabilitation examination during the course of evidence gathering, called discovery, so that the defendants’ expert could reach an opinion as to whether and to which extent the plaintiff could pursue gainful employment.
The underlying incident occurred in November 2012 when the plaintiff was delivering packages at a university in his capacity as an employee of On Trac. As he was delivering packages from his parked truck, the car owned by one of the co-defendants, which was parked by the other co-defendant, an employee of the university (later added as an additional defendant), purportedly rolled down a hill and struck the plaintiff. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained multiple fractures to his right femur and pelvis, requiring surgery. At the time of the decision, he had not returned to work since the accident.
In September 2013, the plaintiff filed suit against the owner of the car and the individual who had been driving the car that day. He later amended his complaint to add the university as a defendant. The plaintiff sought compensatory damages for wage loss and loss of earning capacity, among other claims.