How Does Discovery Work When a Personal Injury Lawsuit Is Filed?
There are several stages a lawsuit must go through before it reaches a conclusion. One of these integral stages is known as discovery. If your personal injury lawsuit goes to court, discovery is one of the first processes you’ll experience. To know all about discovery and how it will affect your personal injury lawsuit, read through the FAQ below, where our East Elmhurst personal injury lawyers discuss the ins and outs of discovery.
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What Is Discovery?
Discovery can be thought of as a formal evidence gathering process. During discovery, the parties to a lawsuit will exchange evidence, interview witnesses, and depose each other. Discovery is conducted to establish the facts of a case. In order for a trial to be fair, involved parties must have access to all available and relevant evidence before the trial begins.
Discovery can take a long time or it can be executed quickly. Often, discovery is completed before settlement negotiations start, and discovery is usually finished way in advance of a trial beginning. There are four main actions which collectively make up the discovery process, and these are: interrogatories, request for production, request for admission, and deposition. Once discovery is completed, the lawsuit moves to the trial, unless a settlement can be reached beforehand.
Why Is Discovery Important?
Discovery is important because it’s at this stage when critical, relevant evidence is formally gathered so the facts of a case can be established. And since parties to a case are given ample time to gather evidence and exchange it, this makes the overall process fairer. If a party to a case wasn’t allowed to see what evidence the opposing side had, such would run afoul to the notion of a common law fair trial.
That being said, it’s permissible in several instances to submit evidence after discovery, though some argue that post-discovery submission of evidence is unfair because this doesn’t afford all parties an equal opportunity to review the new evidence. Another benefit of discovery is that it expedites the process if it’s conducted properly. After all, if all relevant and necessary evidence is gathered early on, the trial will go smoother, and things that delay trials are likely to be avoided.
How Does the Discovery Process Go?
Discovery is the legal term given to a process that’s the collection of four actions. Each action is briefly described below:
Interrogatories are pretty much formal questions that parties will send to each other during discovery. Some of these questions can be categorized as fact-gathering questions. Questions regarding contact information, insurance policy details, injuries, medical history, and treatment history will be asked.
Request for Production
The next part of the process is the request for production, and it’s at this time when attorneys request tangible documents that they can inspect. Medical records, insurance policies, photographs of the accident, medical bills, repair bills, and other documents related to the event/accident will be sought. Again, the parties to the case will be exchanging information amongst themselves, as keeping evidence buried is not only unethical but prohibited.
Request for Admission
The next action is the request for admission, and this is pretty much an attempt by one party to get the opposing party to admit fault. Usually, these are denied or objected. If a party doesn’t respond to a request for admission, the judge who’s overseeing the case may deem a non-answer as an admission of fault.
Out-of-court testimony is referred to as a deposition. It’ll be recorded and transcribed by a court reporter and used later on at trial. Eyewitnesses and expert witnesses will be deposed, and parties to the case will depose each other. Depositions will usually be executed early on, as parties to a case may forget details with the passing of time. Depositions may be recorded via video camera. Although a deposition is not a formal trial, you must answer each question truthfully.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Handle Discovery?
Although it’s possible for a claimant to participate in discovery on their own, in the vast majority of cases this is not the chosen course of action. Parties to an accident will have lawyers representing them at this point, as lawyers know the ins and outs of the discovery process and are able to properly represent their client’s interests. A lawyer will know what questions to ask and what evidence to gather, and they’ll make sure everything is fair so you’re not wrong-footed before the trial.
Why Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Go to Trial?
Personal injury lawsuits end up going to trial for a variety of reasons. Usually, trial is pursued because a settlement could not be reached out of court. Perhaps an involved party’s insurance provider is refusing to pay damages and seeking a judge and jury to decide on what’s owed.
How Often Do Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?
The vast majority of cases don’t go to trial. Parties settle outside of court for a few reasons. For one, going to trial elongates the process. Also, it makes the overall process more expensive. And trial can be risky; you may go into a trial with a lot of leverage, only to have a judge and jury rule totally against you. A good lawyer will understand the significance of going to court and only do so if this is absolutely necessary.
Should I Hire a Lawyer With Trial Experience?
Yes, you should hire a personal injury lawyer who has trial experience. No lawyer knows at the outset that a lawsuit will end up going to trial, yet a good lawyer will always be prepared for trial.
We understand that hiring a personal injury lawyer, especially one with impressive trial experience, can be tough. This is a main reason why we’re a one-stop solution for people like you who need best-in-class legal assistance. We partner with top-tier lawyers, and they’ve recovered over a billion dollars for their clients. Best of all, you only pay them if you win money. They’re also multilingual, and they understand the kind of case you’re looking to bring inside and out.
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