When you are working with a personal injury lawyer to file an accident lawsuit, the entire process can take some time, especially when it is filed with a state court. Your legal advocate is there to help guide you and prepare you for the court proceeding for your case. While waiting for an answer to the insurance demand letter, your lawyer’s team has already been working on the discovery phase of your accident lawsuit. In fact, this started right after your initial consultation!
The discovery phase is where both parties search for new or extra evidence to use in the court proceedings. This includes information that was already exchanged between the two parties, and it further confirms facts and uncovers more data to support each party’s case.
There are several tools and procedures that take place in the discovery phase to help verify facts and obtain certain admissions. In fact, if any party is guilty of committing perjury during this process, they could face legal repercussions such as jail time, case dismissal, or case ruling in the other party’s favor without prejudice.
Discovery starts with facts and information that was exchanged at the accident scene such as:
- Both parties’ names
- Both parties’ addresses
- Accident details
- Police report
- Insurance coverage information
- Medical treatment
- Witness statements
- Witness credibility
- And much more
Lawyers on both sides have a right to do interrogation questions in writing to get pertinent information for the case. This can include a more in-depth look at the opposing party’s insurance and medical history to establish a precedent or other facts to support their case.
Request for Production
Interrogatories can also result in a request for production, which includes copies of all files pertaining to the case. Common documents in a request for production are medical records, insurance policies, injury and/or accident pictures, property repair documents (when applicable), and more. Since these types of information are known facts, it is required that both parties comply with any requests for copies.
Request for Admissions
This is a legal tactic to ask if certain facts are true. Request for admissions help reduce time investigating credibility and factual status. When personal injury lawyers submit requests for admissions to the opposing party, they are time-sensitive with a 30-day response period. This means the other party must admit, deny, or object to the admission statement’s context during this time. If they do not, then the judge presiding over the case may deem the admission to be assumed, and it could affect the opposing party’s case.
Depositions are the final part of the personal injury discovery phase. These are especially important when filing any type of accident lawsuit because they are out-of-court testimonies from other parties not involved in the accident. Most often, your personal injury lawyer will request depositions from experts and lay witnesses, who are non-expert individuals who can verify the plaintiff or defendant’s accounts. It is very important that these testimonies be recorded and transcribed by a state-appointed court reporter. The recordings alone will be enough that the individuals will not be summoned to the accident lawsuit proceedings.
Deposition testimonies can be used in the trial either to support or argue against any fact laid out by your account or the opposing party’s account. Depositions must be the truth, so if it is found that any witnesses or experts committed perjury, there are legal repercussions for both them and the case.
In all, discovery can take mere days, weeks, and even months depending on your case’s complexity and the compliance of parties on both sides. While the personal injury discovery process may seem like it is the longest part of your progress towards the settlement ruling, it is the most important to building your case. It is important to have clear, prompt communication with your lawyer. If you have any questions at any time, ask your legal representation for assistance. It is the lawyer’s job to adequately prepare you for the courtroom.
Mediation is the last option to reach a settlement before an accident lawsuit goes to trial. Stay tuned to the as we wrap up our “filing personal injury lawsuits” series in January 2018.
Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC (SGP Law) is a personal injury law firm in Mesa, AZ. The firm helps victims of car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, negligence, and all types of serious injuries. We care about your injuries and quality of life, and that is why we will fight for your rights. If you have a case that you would like our personal injury lawyers to review, please schedule your free consultation with us today!