What the Discovery Process Really Looks Like in a Car Accident Lawsuit
An average of 6 million car accidents occurs in the country every year. Three million people sustain injuries as a result, causing them to miss work or even develop a disability. If you were recently in a car accident and want to file a lawsuit, you’ll need to make sure the facts are behind you.
The discovery process is key. Without evidence, even the best lawyer could fail to make your case.
What exactly is the discovery phase of a lawsuit and why is it so important? Keep reading to find out!
What Happens During Discovery
During the discovery process in a lawsuit, the plaintiff and defendants are given the opportunity to gather information and evidence. Without evidence to support your side of the story, your lawyer might not bother taking your case. The discovery phase gives your attorney the chance to obtain evidence to prove your case in court.
There are different forms of discovery, including:
- Requests for production of documents
Each piece of evidence could make or break your claim.
Requests for Production of Documents
Requests for production of documents allows your attorney to obtain important documents from other sources. In addition to obtaining evidence from opposing counsel, they might also ask both insurance companies involved for evidence, too.
Each party will need to send the other a request for these documents. This evidence can include:
- Proof of income
- Receipts for vehicle repairs
- Medical records
- Treatment bills
Your attorney will use this information to prove physical damage, which can bolster your claim.
Who was involved in the accident? Did anyone witness what happened?
Your attorney will likely request someone to answer written questions under oath. These are referred to as interrogatories. If someone witnessed your auto accident, you can use an interrogatory to support your side of the story.
Each side will send the other a list of these written questions. You’re expected to answer these questions under oath.
The plaintiff is allowed to serve interrogatories on the defendant along with the initial paperwork. This will force the defendant to answer questions first.
Your attorney might also want to question someone in person. Depositions give your attorney the chance to determine what someone knew before the case. Questioning occurs under oath.
There are penalties for lying under a deposition the same way there are if you lie in a courtroom.
Meanwhile, the defendant will engage in the same discovery process. They’ll want to gather the evidence they need to prove your claim is false.
Independent Medical Examiners
In auto accident cases, both sides might also decide to call on medical experts during the discovery process in a lawsuit.
While “independent” is in the name, this expert really works for the side that hired them. It’s important to have records of your physician’s previous medical exams on record. That way, you can make a comparison between the results of each exam.
Exchanging information such as medical exams usually involves a court order. These court orders will establish a deadline. If you miss those guidelines, you could get penalized.
There are a few ways you can prepare yourself for your own depositions. While these aren’t as dramatic as a courtroom testimony, it helps to understand what’s involved.
Depositions usually occur in mundane places such as a hotel conference room. They can also occur in meeting rooms in office buildings. Regardless of the location, it’s important to know that depositions are as important as a testimony that occurs in a courtroom.
Keep In Contact
First, make sure to keep in contact with your car accident attorney.
It’s likely someone will deliver the notification of a deposition to your lawyer’s office. Your lawyer will then notify you. If you receive the notification of the deposition yourself, make sure to call your lawyer as soon as possible.
Once you’re notified, you’ll want to prepare for the deposition. Spend time reviewing the facts of the case with your lawyer. They can also help you review the testimony you plan on giving.
During a deposition, you’ll need to remain as forthcoming as possible.
Your attorney will know what line of questioning to expect. They can help you prepare for this step in the discovery process before the day of your deposition.
Road crashes cost Americans $871 billion a year in economic and societal repercussions. In order to make the most of your claim, it’s important to organize your testimony beforehand.
It’s likely the deposition will happen months after your car accident. Try to spend as much time as possible reviewing what happened that day. Otherwise, you might risk forgetting important details.
Don’t have your answers memorized as if you’re reading from a script. Providing answers that sound rehearsed can hurt your case in the long run. The attorneys for the opposing side will review your deposition over and over again.
If you’re in the middle of a rehearsed script, it’s easy for someone to throw you off. An unexpected question could cause you to get frazzled and forgetful.
Instead of reading from a script, try to give honest, precise answers.
You should also organize your attire. Consider wearing courtroom attire, meaning no:
- Casual clothing
Instead, look your best. Your appearance can give you confidence and help add to your credibility.
During a deposition, try to wait until the attorney asks the entire question before you answer. Make sure to avoid non-verbal questions, too. These answers can get lost in the transcript.
Avoid offering more information than necessary
The day before, make sure to get plenty of rest. Sleep can help you remain sharp and focused during your deposition.
Your deposition can impact the outcome of your case just as much as a moment in court.
Making a Discovery: Understanding the Discovery Process During a Car Accident Case
The discovery process is an important piece in your entire car accident case. Without it, you could lack the evidence you’ll need to make your case. Make sure to speak with your attorney regarding the steps you’ll need to take to strengthen your case further.
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