If you’ve filed a personal injury case and there’s even a slight chance that it could go to trial, it’s in your best interest to learn about the discovery process and how it works for cases like these.
There are a few steps to the process, but knowing what to expect is best for both you and everyone involved. Read on to learn everything you need to know.
What Is Discovery?
Discovery is the process of exchanging information between parties — usually about witnesses and evidence.
It can last anywhere from just a few months to several, but the process lets both parties know the evidence that’s being presented before trial so there aren’t any surprises left in the air. No matter which side you’re on, it’s meant to help you prepare in advance for your case litigation.
Depositions are simply out-of-court statements given under oath. They involve witnesses from both sides and can be used at trial or while preparing for trial. They consist of oral examination followed by a cross-examination from the opposing side.
Depositions let the other party know what a witness is going to say at trial. If, while on the stand, something deviates from the witness’s original statement, it’s typically used to discredit them.
In addition to depositions, both sides can also submit written questions — or interrogatories — that have to be answered in writing while under oath.
Interrogatories aren’t always used in the trial, but they’re fairly common. If a party chooses to use this method, the questions are sent directly to the opposite party’s lawyer. They’re then given a set amount of time to answer.
If you have other questions about the process or need a lawyer, you can have a look on this page.
Aside from statements, the other most common thing the discovery process requires is documentation. Here’s a brief list of what may be required:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Employment records documenting time lost from work
- Damage reports
- Photos or evidence from the accident scene
- Police or other accident reports
This documentation is important because it backs up any and everything someone has to say. It can also work to discredit anything false a witness might say. It’s important to keep track of any and all documentation from the beginning.
Requests for Admission
Finally, a request for admissions can have the power to narrow down the specific issues of a case. If both parties agree on certain aspects of the case, then it doesn’t have to be proven at trial. It’s already presented as fact.
This helps save time during the trial and prevents both sides from presenting irrelevant information.
Why the Discovery Process Matters
As you can probably already tell, the discovery process makes a difference not only for your personal injury lawyer but also for you. It allows both sides time to prepare for the trial and it gives everyone a fair chance to make their cases known.
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