If you’ve been involved in a personal injury case in the past, or in many other kinds of court proceedings for that matter, chances are you’ve heard a bit about discovery. This process, which involves attorneys on both sides of a given case exchanging information as required by law, can be very important to the final outcome of many kinds of personal injury cases.
At the offices of John D. Halepaska, we’ll take you through the discovery process quickly and simply while protecting your right to privacy during any personal injury case. Let’s go over the basics on what’s involved in discovery and any preparation you might need to make for it.
As we noted above, discovery is the exchange of information between the two parties or attorneys involved in a given lawsuit. Items involved in this exchange will include evidence in the case, plus witnesses and any other important information that might make a difference.
The theme of discovery is keeping all parties on a level legal playing field. Cases that do go to trial should not contain surprises for either attorney – both sides should know what’s on the table at all points. Discovery will always be completed before any trial starts, and will often even be done before your personal injury lawyer begins settlement negotiations with the opposing party.
Important Actions During Discovery
There are four primary actions present during discovery:
- Request for production: A written request from one attorney to the other that asks for physical documents. These may include medical records, photographs of an accident scene, receipt, repair records for vehicles, or even insurance policies in some cases. Requests for production can almost never be legally denied.
- Request for admission: A request for admission takes place when one party provides a written statement of fact to the other. The party receiving the statement then has the option to admit, deny or object to the substance of the statement. If no response is given within 30 days, the statement is considered admitted.
- Interrogatories: Written questions sent from one party to the other to increase their factual understanding of the case. These will often include basic information like names, dates, injuries suffered, medical histories and more. Interrogatories often go hand-in-hand with requests for production.
- Deposition: In some cases, testimony for a given case can actually be recorded outside the court itself. This is called a deposition, and it will be recorded by a court reporter and the transcript will be held for use during either further discovery or the trial itself. Depositions can be requested by either party, and may include those involved in the case or outsiders like expert witnesses. In cases of vehicle accidents, depositions may be used as a way to allow involved parties to have the best possible recollection of the events soon after they happened – memories can fade over time and the personal injury case process often moves slowly.
For more on what happens during discovery, or to speak to a personal injury attorney about what we can do for you, contact the offices of John D. Halepaska today.