Personal injury cases go through a fact-finding process known as discovery. The findings during discovery may either lead the parties to a settlement or give reason for the parties to continue to trial. The discovery phase of a personal injury case usually begins right after the personal injury lawyer representing you files suit in your name. This stage of the personal injury proceedings is very important. Your personal injury lawyer will conduct research that will help form an argument in support of your accident and injury claims.
During your personal injury case, you might experience multiple stages of discovery. The amount of discovery your case experiences and how far it progresses into discovery depends on the evidence and settlement. As you, the injured party, are the plaintiff in the case, you have some responsibilities to fulfill during the discovery phase. By understanding the discovery process, you’ll be better able to assist in the proceedings and more likely to win your case.
The following are the major parts of the discovery process in a personal injury case and what you should expect from this stage:
The first part of the discovery process usually consists of attorneys on both sides of the case sending out written requests for information including interrogatories, requests to produce documents, and requests for admission to the court.
These all play a role in evidence collection; therefore, your warrior personal injury lawyer is likely to use all forms.
- Interrogatories – Interrogatories are simply general questions about the case, answered under oath, that are sent back and forth between the lawyers of the plaintiff and the defendant. They must be answered in writing within a certain period of time.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Formal requests requiring the opposing attorney to produce certain documents that can be used for inspection, copying, and filing by the other party. These typically involve requests to produce items such as bills, documents, photographs, records, receipts, and reports.
- Requests for Admission – A request for admission can be sent to an opposing attorney to request that basic facts be admitted under oath in preparation for trial. Requests for admission can speed things up once the trial begins by getting the admission of basic facts out of the way.
Each party is entitled to see most of the documents that are even remotely related to the case. This is particularly true in personal injury cases that involve medical malpractice or product liability because the paperwork can be rather essential in nature. It is becoming more common for the courts to allow computer files to enter into the process of document discovery. Sometimes they may even allow the parties to reconstruct deleted files, although this practice is not very common.
The Oral Discovery Phase
Oral discovery typically includes depositions. A deposition is an official meeting, where a court reporter will be present to record the conversation. During this portion of the oral discovery phase, parties will interview witnesses, the plaintiff, and the defendant.
Depositions feature a question-and-answer format. Certain objections can be made during a deposition, but every state has different laws regarding this. During a deposition, you will be asked questions by the defendant’s attorney. These questions will give you a chance to explain your injury, the event(s) that led to your injury, your previous medical history, your treatment, and more. Try not to be too nervous. Your warrior personal injury lawyer will make sure you are well prepared and that you know what to expect from opposing counsel and the deposition process. Plus, your lawyer will be with you during the deposition to protect your rights and prevent you from being harassed.
In addition to your deposition as the plaintiff, depositions might be required from other individuals with knowledge of your injury. Witnesses of an accident or doctors providing expert testimony might be required to give depositions, for example.
When your injury or some of your injuries are under question by the opposing party, they may seek a court order that requires you to undergo a physical examination by a doctor. This doctor will perform a independent medical examination and compile a report about his or her professional opinion regarding your injuries.
As the plaintiff, you typically go through the independent medical examination in order to determine the scope of your injuries, their severity, and so forth. If you also are suffering from mental anguish or post-traumatic stress disorder, the courts might seek a psychiatric examination. Alternatively, the defendant might choose to simply have a doctor examine your medical records rather than perform an actual examination.
Can a Lawyer Dispute Discovery Evidence?
Disputes are common during the discovery phase. Sometimes a party might argue that a deposition question or document is irrelevant, while other times an individual may feel questioning is purposely vague. Questions that invade the privacy of the defendant or plaintiff might also create a dispute, and some questions might constitute harassment, depending on the context.
That is why it is so important to have an experienced warrior personal injury lawyer that will be there to protect you and your legal rights during the discovery phase. An experienced lawyer from Chicago Injury Legal at The Romaker Law Firm will prepare you for the deposition so you know what to expect, feel more relaxed and know how to answer questions properly, which will help strengthen your personal injury case.
Injured? Call Chicago Injury Legal at The Romaker Law Firm!
The first step after a serious injury is to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer from Chicago Injury Legal at The Romaker Law Firm. We understand what you are going through, the questions you have, and your concerns. Our team of warrior personal injury lawyers are here to help you through each stage of the personal injury process, from injury to recovery, and aggressively seek the compensation you deserve.
With over 25 years of experience and a bilingual staff, Chicago Injury Legal at The Romaker Law Firm is dedicated to providing you with the aggressive legal representation you need. We provide an initial consultation free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if we win your case! Contact Chicago Injury Legal at The Romaker Law Firm at 312-377-7000 today!