Understanding the Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case

Picture of lawyers going through the discovery process in a personal injury case

Before a personal injury case reaches the courtroom, all parties have the right to engage in discovery. This is the phase during which critical, relevant facts about the case are gathered. The discovery process in a personal injury case also plays a role in settling the lawsuit. If you’re a personal injury defendant, you need our experienced personal injury attorneys to handle discovery. You need the litigation team of Rosenbaum & Taylor.

Contrary to portrayals in popular culture, there are relatively few “gotcha” moments in civil litigation. That’s thanks to what is known as discovery. It is the process by which parties try to obtain information relevant to the claims and defenses in a case. But just because discovery reduces the likely number of surprises doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. If you are defending against a personal injury case, you need to know how it works.

Discovery is broadly divided into written discovery and depositions. Written discovery is further broken down into the following:

  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for admissions
  • Requests for production of documents
  • Subpoenas

Although these are not the only discovery methods, they are the most commonly used.  Let’s explore each in detail:

Interrogatories are written requests for information sent to the other parties. The parties have to answer these questions under oath, so they must be as truthful and accurate as possible. You, the defendant, may send interrogatories to the plaintiff. In a personal injury case, it is common for a defendant to ask these types of questions:

  • How and where did the injury occur?
  • What is the nature and severity of your injuries?
  • What treatment did you receive for your injuries?

Meanwhile, it is likely that you, the defendant, will be asked such questions as:

  • What measures did you take to keep the premises free of hazards?
  • How did you respond to the plaintiff being injured?
  • Has your company previously been sued for a personal injury claim?

Requests for admissions are exactly what they sound like: they ask a party to admit (or deny) specific allegations. These are used to clarify essential facts in the case and eliminate unnecessary issues. Each side can send a request to the other to admit or deny a series of factual statements. If the party cannot admit or deny a statement, they must explain why. Take note that if you fail to respond to a request, it will be taken as an admission.

Requests for production of documents seek written evidence relevant to the case. These may include medical records, property maintenance records, copies of insurance policies, and much more.

Subpoenas are similar to requests for production of documents. They are sent to third parties, who are not involved in the underlying claims. The subpoena commands the third party to turn over documents that are in their possession and control.

A deposition is also known as an examination before trial. A party will be asked questions, similar to what may be asked at a trial. Depositions are in-person and answers are given under oath. A stenographer records the testimony and objections can be made. If an objection is made, the judge (who’s not present) may be called to decide whether the party must answer.

Discovery can make or break a case for either side in a personal injury case. As the defendant, you should expect detailed and elaborate discovery requests. However, discovery can be used to narrow and clarify issues, which can facilitate settlement. Responding to discovery, while preserving your rights and working for an out of court solution, takes a skilled legal team. At Rosenbaum & Taylor, we deliver for our clients.

Defending You Each Step of the Way

When you or your company are targeted in a personal injury lawsuit, it takes quick thinking to respond. If conducted properly, the discovery process in a personal injury case can be a beneficial part of that response. It may enable your company to quickly reach a settlement. Regardless, you need an experienced personal injury defense attorney in your corner to handle discovery. Rosenbaum & Taylor is with you each step of the way. Give us a call today.

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