The Discovery Phase is the second part of filing a law suit, following the initiation of litigation. The discovery phase is when both the plaintiff and defense learn about the specifics of the case at hand. When a lawsuit is filed due to a car accident or another type of personal injury there are many pieces of information that may be unknown to the plaintiff. For instance, the name of the person who owned the car that struck you, names or locations of possible witnesses to the accident, the amount of property damage that the accident caused, and several additional important facts relevant to your claim.
There are many tools lawyers will use to “discover” information from the other party;
- Request for Admission of Facts
- Request for Production of Documents
This is not an exhaustive list. The two tools most often used are request for production of documents and depositions.
Request for Production of Documents
Our clients will often find this process very intrusive and ask us to protect their records from being produced. Unfortunately, the law permits the defense to obtain most of these documents and will compel us to produce them. If you were hurt as a result of the car crash and are making a claim for medical bills and bodily injury the other side is allowed to review those same records, which your claim for personal injury is based on. We can, however, take certain steps to limit which records are produced and ask the court for a protective order on certain sensitive documents. Generally a Request for Production is limited to the production of documents or copies of documents. However, in some unique car accident cases or personal injury cases it may be necessary to request the production of objects like fenders, whole cars, damaged property, etc. or pictures and videos depicting the episode. Also, the defense attorney in a car accident case will want the plaintiff to produce copies of all their medical chart notes, medical billing statement, proof of any wage loss claimed, diaries or notes the plaintiff might have kept, copies of their social media accounts, a copy of their driver’s license, tax filing, and many others. It is important to always have your social media accounts set to the highest privacy level, and during litigation it is advised to refrain from posting anything as it could be used against you.
Deposition is the second most common discovery method used by attorneys to learn about the case. A deposition is an interview of a witness (deponent) taken under oath and typically recorded by a court reporter. A good attorney will typically spend as much time as necessary preparing their clients for the deposition so you will not normally be surprised by questions that come up during the deposition. Generally, as the victim of a car accident or personal injury claim you will be asked questions about your medical history, injuries, pre-existing medical issues if any, wage history, the underlying car crash or other injury-causing event, and medical treatment. You will also be asked to describe how the injuries from the car accident affected your enjoyment of life or quality of life you enjoyed prior to the accident.
If you have any questions about the Discovery Phase of your claim, or, you have experienced a car accident or personal injury claim and you need to file a claim for damages, don’t hesitate to contact our office. A skilled member of our team will be happy to assist you.