Understanding the Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case
If you are unable to settle your personal injury claim with the insurance provider of the other party early on in the process, your personal injury lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf, and then you are in litigation. This means that both parties are under the court’s jurisdiction and must follow the rules of the court.
Also, the court places time limits on the parties to complete specific work on their case. In a personal injury case, this is where the discovery process comes in. The parties conduct discovery to obtain information pertinent to the lawsuit.
What is Discovery?
A significant pre-trial part of the litigation process is known as discovery. In this time period, both parties request and exchange all pertinent information related to the lawsuit. The discovery process will include information about the parties, how the incident occurred, what the specific injuries are, the medical treatment details, and all evidence of the damages (both special and general) suffered by the plaintiff.
During the discovery process, the parties can use a variety of information-gathering tools, including but not limited to request for documents, interrogatories, requests for admission, depositions, and medical exams. All parties are entitled to serve each other with various types of discovery to collect information to build their case, or in the case of the defendant to “tear down” the plaintiff’s case. In a personal injury case discovery process, there are various ways to get information.
Specific Discovery Tools
Interrogatories refer to written questions that necessitate written responses. Request for documents falls in the category as it involves specific written requests that the other party reveals all relevant documents in their control. Requests for Admission ask the other party to admit that some facts are false. Therefore, the other party does not waste time proving such facts in court.
Depositions represent the most crucial area of a personal injury case discovery process. They are live interviews that offer a chance to each party to sit down with the other side or witness and ask a series of questions related to the case.
Legal experts opine that this process can be the most beneficial too. The questions and answers of deposition are recorded live in writing for both parties to evaluate and use to build their case. Either party to a lawsuit can depose the other party. Furthermore, any witness to the incident, any witness to the plaintiff’s injuries, or any specialist relevant to the case could be deposed.
Lastly, the defendant can ask the plaintiff (injured party) to submit to a medical exam by a doctor engaged by the defense lawyer to examine and assess the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
All responses in a discovery process are given under the penalty of perjury, which means that the individual or party responding takes an oath of truth in providing their responses. If your personal injury case elevates to the level of litigation and discovery, you definitely want to have a seasoned personal injury attorney on your side.
Suggestions for Deposition
Your lawyer will inform you what they require from you if you are deposed. However, there are two primary things to remember. First off, never guess. The aim of a deposition is to provide facts, not to speculate on what could’ve happened. Even if you feel self-conscious saying it, sometimes the right answer is “I don’t know.”
Secondly, it is natural to want to explain things to allow your listener to understand. But you must resist this impulse during a deposition. It is your adversary’s job to get the answers. Your job is only to respond to the question asked, not to provide further information.
Things to Remember About Discovery
- Be mindful that it is highly probable that anything and everything will unravel at some point during the discovery process.
- Be honest with your lawyer about the facts and documents that may be presented to allow them to prepare adequately for trial.
- Discovery can be prolonged, costly, frustrating, and intrusive, and whether you want your life to undergo that level of scrutiny should play into your decision whether or not to initiate a lawsuit.
- Be forthright, as nothing will make you lose a lawsuit faster than lying in discovery and getting caught.
Get Experienced Legal Guidance with the Discovery Process in Southern California
The discovery process is crucial and one that should be taken seriously. The adversarial counsel will undertake everything it can to challenge your version, poke holes in your story, or even discredit your character-whatever it takes to win the lawsuit. In this scenario, it is vital for you to have robust legal representation at your side.
Consider speaking to our experienced La Mesa personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Garmo & Garmo to learn more about the merits of your case and pursue a robust legal strategy for the compensatory damages you are entitled to. For a complimentary consultation with a seasoned personal injury attorney, call today at (619) 441-2500.