In a personal injury case, the discovery process is an essential tool for creating a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the subject of your lawsuit. Following your initial consultation with your personal injury attorney, the formal discovery stage of your case will begin.
As part of our ongoing Legal Education Series, our 6-part series titled: Understanding the Steps Involved In a Personal Injury Case, explains the stages of a personal injury case from start to finish. We are pleased to present Part 2: The 4 Steps Involved In Discovery For A Personal Injury Case
What Is Discovery?
Discovery can be understood simply as the exchange of information between the parties in the lawsuit, including the exchange of evidence, witnesses and facts about the case. Discovery enables everyone involved to know the facts and information about the case. Discovery may be completed before settlement negotiations occur and certainly before a trial beings.
Discovery consists of four key actions: interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission and depositions. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
To put it simply, interrogatories are written questions one party will send the opposing party. Interrogatories include fact gathering questions relevant to the lawsuit, such as: the name and contact information of the involved parties or any witnesses; information on any insurance covering the incident; a description of injuries suffered and the medical treatment received for these injuries and the injured party’s medical history.
2. Request For Production
A request for production is a written request asking the opposing attorney for tangible documents for the purposes of inspection. Depending on the type of lawsuit, the opposing party may request copies of medical records or insurance policies, photographs taken at the scene of the accident, receipts or records of repairs to property and other related documents. All parties are required to turn over relevant documents to the other side in response to a request for production from the opposing party. It is very common for these requests to accompany interrogatories.
3. Request For Admission
A request for admission is one party’s written factual statement served to another party who must admit, deny or object to the substance of the statement. If a party fails to respond to requests for admission within 30 days, the statements may be deemed by a judge to have been admitted to by the party who received the request for admissions.
A deposition is out-of-court testimony, recorded and transcribed by a court reporter, for later use in court or for discovery purposes. Either party can request a deposition of the other parties, lay or expert witnesses in the lawsuit. Depositions can often be beneficial to capture an account of an accident or event before the involved parties forget the minor, often important, details. The transcript or video recording of a deposition may be used later on during a trial to corroborate or dispute testimony. While a deposition is not a formal hearing or trial, it is important for the person being deposed to answer each question truthfully.
The discovery process can take anywhere from weeks to months and will almost always involve the client’s active participation. Your personal injury lawyer will prepare you for the discovery phase and help you understand your requirements.
The next article in our Legal Education Series will explore settlements and putting a case into suit in Understanding A Personal Injury Case: Part #3: What Are the Steps To Reach A Settlement? Check back in August!
At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a case you would like to speak to a lawyer about, please contact us to schedule a free consultation and get an experienced team of lawyers working on your behalf.