There are many stages to a personal injury lawsuit. Discovery happens before a trial begins, and involves the collection of evidence. Both the plaintiff and defendant participate, focusing on three different types of evidence. Written discovery collects written testimonials through form questionnaires, document production collects paperwork like medical reports and arrest records, and depositions take sworn statements from both parties.
The discovery process is the most invasive stage of a court case and can discourage many plaintiffs. Well-prepared plaintiffs will understand how discovery works and what to expect.
Written discovery generally produces two types of evidence: interrogatories and requests for admission. Interrogatories come as form documents that contain questions specific to the case. Questions will ask about what happened on specific dates or what involved parties were wearing or doing. Any attorney will help understand which questions to answer and which deserve an objection. Requests for admission are not used that often but carry a lot of weight. They ask parties to deny or confirm facts. Plaintiffs may incur penalties for lying, answering late, or not answering at all.
This phase collects all relevant paperwork and will change based on the nature of the case. In personal injury suits, lawyers will track down medical records, police reports, insurance claims and potentially even e-mails.
Sworn statements recorded by a court reporter, depositions can be challenging for both plaintiffs and defendants. Depositions almost always reveal any withheld information, so it is important to be completely honest with one’s lawyer beforehand. Also, never guess or speculate when providing answers — if a plaintiff does not know something, it is best to say so. Additionally, never answer unasked questions or try to explain an answer. Keep answers as simple and straightforward as possible, only providing the requested information. Strategically, the opposing side will use deposition to lock people into their stories, find out critical details about the opposition’s legal strategy and see how a witness will do on the stand.
Secure professional counsel
Many plaintiffs find discovery stressful and invasive enough that it discourages them from continuing with the suit. However, most personal injury cases settle out of court following discovery, so getting through is vital to secure restitution. Many plaintiffs have found a local lawyer experienced in personal injury suits helped them find that resolution quickly.