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Review of  The Interpreter's Guide to the Vehicular Accident Lawsuit

Reviewer: José L. Varela-Ibarra
Book Title: The Interpreter's Guide to the Vehicular Accident Lawsuit
Book Author: Josef F Buenker
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 16.1599

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Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 12:14:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: José Varela
Subject: The Interpreter's Guide to the Vehicular Accident Lawsuit

AUTHOR: Buenker, Josef
TITLE: The Interpreter's Guide to the Vehicular Accident Lawsuit
SERIES: Professional Interpreting in the Real World
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
YEAR: 2005

Dr. José L. Varela-Ibarra, Department of Foreign Languages and Humanities,
Eastern Kentucky University


Josef Buenker, admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Texas, in
the United States District Courts, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals,
concentrates in the area of civil trial law, with an emphasis on personal
injury litigation, which includes vehicular accident cases. Having acted
as lead counsel in hundreds of lawsuits and having represented clients in
pre-litigation settlement efforts, mediations, and arbitrations, Mr.
Buenker is highly qualified to write on the content and context of what is
a very common interpreting assignment for judiciary interpreters and
translators, the vehicular accident lawsuit.

Mr. Buenker's book follows the litigation process involving vehicular
accidents from the event itself through the trial. Vehicular accidents
discussed in the book include intersectional collisions, accidents
involving drunk drivers, allegedly defective vehicles, and even
livestock. The most commonly encountered types of witnesses, as well as
both the plaintiff's and the defendant's perspectives and goals with
regard to the various witnesses are examined.

Helping the interpreter understand the goals of the parties in a
deposition and the context of the deposition and questions is one of the
primary objectives of this book. Practical examples to assist the
interpreter in understanding the types of documentation and questioning
that may be encountered during the course of a vehicular accident lawsuit
round up Mr. Buenker's book.

The volume is divided into six chapters: 1) An Introduction to the
Vehicular Accident Lawsuit, 2) Types of Vehicular Accident Lawsuits, 3)
Participation of the Interpreter in Vehicular Accident Lawsuits, 4)
Recurring Witnesses and Potential Testimony, 5) Non-Recurring Witnesses,
and 6) Expert Witnesses. Approximately one third of the book consists of
twelve Appendices: 1) Plaintiff's Original Petition, 2) Defendant's
Original Answer, 3) Defendant Interrogatories to Plaintiff, 4) Deposition
Notice and Request for Production, 5) Medical Authorization, 6) Employment
and Payroll Record Authorization, 7) Social Security Record Authorization,
8) Minor Settlement Hearing Transcript, 9) Minor Structured Settlement
Agreement, 10) Judgment Approving Structured Settlement, 11) Judge's
Instruction to Jury, and 12) Jury Charge.

The book begins with an acknowledgement to the assistance rendered to the
author by Diane Teichman, the series editor, a practicing judiciary
interpreter herself. A brief preface follows, in which the author
outlines the book's contents and his intention: to be of service to the
working interpreting.

Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Vehicular Accident Lawsuit
Following a very brief overview of court proceedings in the United States,
the author describes the two main categories of civil suits: violations
of contractual agreements and lawsuits involving torts, an injury to a
party due to the breach of some legal duty one person has to another. Both
categories can involve a vehicular accident.

The progression of a vehicular accident lawsuit -- from the initial client
meeting and investigation to the complaint, defendant's pleadings,
counterclaims, third parties, discovery, interrogatories, depositions, and
finally mediation and settlement or trial and appeal -- is then examined.
At each stage of the proceedings, terms are defined for the reader.

Chapter 2: Types of Vehicular Accident Lawsuits
After a discussion of damages and how the recovery of some monetary
compensation is part of most vehicular accident lawsuits, this chapter
describes auto-auto accidents, intersectional, rear-end and head-on
collisions, construction or alcohol related collisions, auto-pedestrian,
auto-truck, and livestock accidents, and finishes describing uninsured
motorists claims, product liability, and vehicle manufacturing defects.
The author goes beyond simple descriptions. He points out the
ramifications of each type of accident to the interpreter's job.

Chapter 3: Participation of the Interpreter in Vehicular Accident Lawsuits
This chapter brings the interpreter to each of the stages of the vehicular
accident lawsuit, from the initial client meeting to the trial. At each
stage the interpreter is not only advised of his function, but also warned
about potential pitfalls and ethical lapses. The interpreter, for
example, is directed not to answer any questions posed to him by a witness
or another party even if thinking he or she knows the answer. Instead,
the interpreter is to refer the witness or party to the attorney. If the
interpreter is assigned to go to the accident scene, he or she may hear
very emotionally charged language. In such cases, the interpreter is
advised not to interrupt the speaker for that may cause the person to lose
track of what he or she was saying and to perhaps forget to relay
important information. In depositions, even where the interpreter sits
with respect to the witness and the court reporter is important. The
author advises the interpreter to sit between the two because the court
reporter will be listening to the interpreter not the witness.

Chapter 4: Recurring Witnesses and Potential Testimony
While the previous chapter familiarized the interpreter with the various
stages of the vehicular accident lawsuit, this chapter focuses on the
various witnesses that are likely to appear in the lawsuit, their
positions and objectives, and the objectives and direction that the
plaintiff and the defendant may wish the testimony to take. This gives
the interpreter and idea of the terminology and the context of the
depositions to be interpreted. From police officers to medical doctors to
bar owners may be called to testify. The interpreter needs to be prepared
to handle the various registers and terminologies.

Chapter 5: Non-Recurring Witnesses
This chapter continues the process of familiarizing the interpreter with
possible witnesses. Here the emphasis is on witnesses that are unique to
specific vehicular accident lawsuits. For example, in an accident
involving livestock, a very important witness is the sheriff, deputy, or
other law enforcement agent responsible for regulating livestock and
traffic laws and for enforcing laws or statutes regarding the fencing in
of livestock.

Chapter 6: Expert Witnesses
The author explains that expert testimony is usually interpreted only in a
full-trial scenario. The difficulties for the interpreter include the
technical nature of the expert's testimony and the speed of his delivery.
Cross-examinations are usually slower and more deliberate, but more
confrontational. Medical experts are the most common in vehicular
accident lawsuits, but others may be called to the stand: accident
reconstructionist, vocational/economic expert, traffic signal engineers, a
trucking industry engineer, and others.

The twelve documents in the appendices section of the book are very
valuable as training tools and further sources of terminology for the
interpreter. Appendix 3, for example, "Defendant Interrogatories to
Plaintiff," includes 27 typical questions. (No. 4: Have you ever been
arrested for, indicted for, plead guilty to, or been found guilty of a
felony or a misdemeanor? If so, state when and where and the nature of
the charge.) Interpreters need to prepare for these questions and their
possible answers.


Josef Buenker has made a valuable contribution to the literature on the
training and education of translators and interpreters, specifically
judiciary interpreters. The book is very thorough in explaining to the
interpreter the entire vehicular accident lawsuit process and the most
common categories of witnesses that are encountered in such litigation.
The documents included for the interpreter's benefit are relevant and well-

Written primarily for interpreters, this book could benefit from a future
expansion -- a glossary, a bibliography, a resources list, more documents -
- that would make it ideal for interpreter trainers and professors in
interpreting studies courses.


José L. Varela-Ibarra has a Ph.D. in Spanish from The University of Texas
at Austin and is a U.S. Courts Certified Interpreter and Translator. He
scores interpreting exams for the National Association of Judiciary
Interpreters and Translators. He has published articles and handbooks on
Translation Studies, organized several international conferences on the
education and training of translators and interpreters, edited newsletters
on terminology and the business of translation, presented papers and
conducted workshops nationally and internationally. He has taught
translation and interpreting in Brazil, Mexico, and at San Diego State
University, Florida International University, the University of the West
Indies, the University of Texas at Brownsville, and at Eastern Kentucky
University, where he is currently Chair of the Languages and Humanities

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