There are several steps between the filing of a personal injury lawsuit and a trial. One of the most important steps is discovery. This is when both parties disclose information that is relevant to the case. Each party to the lawsuit then uses that information to help them strengthen their case.
If you have questions about your legal options or other legal procedures after an accident, call our Green Bay car crash lawyers today. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees. You only pay us when we recover compensation for you.
What Are the Steps in the Discovery Process?
The discovery process can be divided into two categories: written discovery and oral discovery.
Written discovery involves Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents and Requests for Admissions.
Interrogatories are lists of written questions that one party sends to another. Your lawyer can object to questions, but otherwise you are required to provide written responses.
Request for Admissions
The request for admissions is usually one of the steps in the discovery process that helps reveal the facts both sides are arguing about. For example, in a car accident case, the party accused of causing a collision may be asked to admit whether he or she was driving the vehicle.
The accident victim may also be asked to admit certain facts that are not being disputed. For example, if the injured individual has a preexisting condition or injury, the at-fault party may request admission of this fact. There are some instances when this may be necessary to admit, such as in a case when the accident victim is claiming his or her old injuries were aggravated in the accident.
Request to Produce Documents
The typical facts that are being disputed in a personal injury case are as follows:
- Did one party act negligently?
- Did the negligent actions of the individual result in an accident?
- Did the accident directly result in the injuries suffered?
To prove these facts, the discovery process allows for each side to produce certain evidence. Each party must disclose certain information to help defend or prove their case.
Since the burden of proof lies with the injured party, his or her lawyer must request information from the opposing party that could help prove that person’s negligence. For example, if another driver is accused of texting and driving, your attorney may request phone records to prove it.
On the other hand, the accident victim must also disclose information like medical records to prove his or her injuries were a direct result of the accident.
In oral discovery, each party undergoes a deposition to present additional information that may help each side’s case. Only one person can be deposed at a time.
The following individuals are usually present at a deposition:
- The person being deposed
- That person’s lawyer
- The opposing party’s lawyer
- A court reporter
Depositions are recorded either in writing, on audio or audio and video by the court reporter. Before undergoing a deposition, the person who is being deposed should be briefed by his or her attorney. This is done to help ensure the individual will give honest answers in a way that should not hurt his or her case.
During the deposition, the attorney doing the questioning may refer to the information disclosed during written discovery for clarity or for additional information. An attorney may object to answering certain questions only if there is good reason to. For example, if the answer to a question discloses privileged information.
What Information May Not Be Discovered in a Personal Injury Case?
Although discovery can encompass a great deal of personal information, there are certain things that may not be discoverable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Privileged information is not discoverable except in the most extenuating circumstances. Privileged information includes things like communications between you and your attorney or conversations with your doctor that are not relevant to the case.
Other private matters that are not relevant to the case may also not be discovered during a personal injury lawsuit. For example, details about your religious beliefs, sexuality, immediate family relationships, political beliefs, etc.
Any information that invades the privacy of a third party is also protected from discovery. This could include information about the personal life of a private individual, such as an eyewitness’ financial difficulties or personal affairs.
What Should Accident Victims Do During the Discovery Process?
During the discovery process, accident victims should listen to what the attorney handling the case advises.
It is important to be honest and not hide anything. Discovery is a thorough process, so the truth always comes out. If you attempt to hide something, it could end up hurting your case and the chances of recovering any compensation.
Need Legal Help? Call Us Today
If you were injured in a car accident and are thinking about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party, you should strongly consider seeking legal advice.
Our experienced attorneys have decades of experience handling the legal process on behalf of accident victims. We have recovered millions on behalf of our clients and are prepared to help you.
The call is free and there are no upfront fees.
Call (877) 888-5201 to schedule a free consultation.