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.
Once a wrong has occurred, it is usually human nature to want to seek justice. In the legal realm, this could mean filing a personal injury lawsuit or a bodily injury claim. It is important to note that not all grievances are pursuable in a court of law. That is why preparation is so crucial to the outcome of each case. Our attorneys share information about the filing process for personal injury lawsuits to help you learn more and prepare for your own case.
Personal Injury Lawsuits versus Bodily Injury Claims
The difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a bodily injury claim is quite large. A personal injury lawsuit can be filed for any type of accident where a negligent party caused harm to another. Defendants could include:
- Car part manufacturers
- Product manufacturers
- Property managers
- Dog owners
- Other medical staff
- Medical facilities
- Pharmaceutical labs
- And much more
When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the end goal is to reach a settlement. This can be as simple as a formal apology or as complicated as a monetary sum calculated with punitive damages. When financial compensation is the settlement means, it is paid out to the victims and their successors. The final amount is one that is ruled by a judge as fair compensation for the quality of life loss and may include medical expenses, legal costs, and compensation for pain and suffering.
About Bodily Injury Claims
Simply put, bodily injury claims are a form of compensation from automotive insurance companies. It’s a type of medical coverage for car accident victims with physical injuries. Most auto insurance policies are set where driver A’s policy covers driver B and his or her passengers’ injuries and vice-versa. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, there are options to receive compensation for medical treatment bills. If medical costs far exceed the insurance payout maximums, which vary per policy, or the other motorist lacks auto insurance coverage or has inadequate coverage, then a personal injury lawsuit can help recover costs.
The very first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is to request the initial consultation. This is often a 30-minute session with a state-sanctioned personal injury lawyer. Use this consultation to discuss your case and get free legal feedback. More often than not, the legal advice provided will guide victims and their loved ones to their next steps. Please note that this is not a legal agreement to start services with the lawyer or the firm they represent.
Before choosing an attorney or law firm for a consultation, do your research. Here are some criteria to include on your checklist:
- Check their website and social media accounts – Have they won any recent cases that are like yours? How many lawyers on staff are experienced with the types of injuries you sustained? Are the firm partners or founders going to be involved in your case?
- Look at reviews – See how others have rated the individual lawyers and the firm as a whole. Reviews can share key indicators of lawyer-client communication, responsiveness, time spent, and other important factors that could help you make a decision.
- Research accreditations and legal memberships – Continuing education is very important in the legal community. Well-versed attorneys and firms will be endorsed by many on sites like Martindale-Hubble, NOLO and AVVO.
- Determine their fee schedules – Lawyers are paid on a fee basis. For some, this may mean a contingency basis, hourly payments, and down payment up front. Personal injury victims with limited funds will want to look for lawyers who accept contingency cases. This means the lawyers do not accept payment until after the case has reached a settlement. If there is no settlement, you are not obligated to pay the lawyer or their firm for their time invested in your case.
Consultations may result in claim rejection. Possible reasons why a firm may reject your case include:
- There is not enough basis legally to pursue any justifiable outcome
- It is out of their expertise (in which they often refer you to another firm that can)
- They do not have enough availability to take on your case
This does not mean you should give up. It may just mean that the particular attorney or firm you have queried does not have the bandwidth for that type of case. Keep trying with different firms to make sure your case gets the attention it deserves.
Mediation is the last option to reach a settlement before an accident lawsuit goes to trial.