State Farm’s Expert Designations

In accident cases, our lawyers make sure we know what expert testimony defendants are will see at trial. One weapon in our discovery arsenal is a good expert interrogatory.

Identify any and all experts you intend to call as witnesses, and whose reports you intend to mention and/or introduce at trial or in any Motion, including his/her area of expertise, and identify and attach to your Answers any and all written reports prepared by said experts, and indicate the content of any and all opinions reached by said experts and the factual basis for each such opinion and the amount of compensation paid to each such expert.

In its response, State Farm says, “Hey, cool your jets, we will produce experts pursuant to the discovery order.” Technically, State Farm’s answer is not satisfactory. This interrogatory, served with the Complaint, is due within 30 days of service. But there is the rule and there is the way things are done. Filing a motion to compel to answer an expert interrogatory before the scheduling order requires expert designations would be just too ticky-tacky. It is a tell to State Farm and the judge hearing the motion that you are more interested in fighting for the sake of fighting than really trying to engage in legitimate discovery.

So, we wait for the expert deadline. We get a cut and paste document that tells us absolutely nothing.

Why does State Farm nakedly ignore their discovery obligations? There is, actually, a method to the obstructionism. In 95% of State Farm’s cases, they cut and paste because they can. Few Maryland accident lawyers will hold State Farm’s feet to the fire and demand more meaningful answers. Under Maryland law, if you don’t complain in a timely fashion, you can’t complain that you were not given complete answers at trial. Even fewer lawyers will set up the case to clarify that State Farm designated these experts long before these experts were even told about the existence of the case. So they practice obstructionism which, conveniently, is also the path that requires the least effort.
Maryland accident lawyers need to push insurance companies to keep them honest in discovery. If we all did, we could end-run a lot of this type of nonsense.