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.
Appendices 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- chosen.
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.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
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 Department.