Did you know that there are over 6 million car accidents in America every year? And, many of those car accidents lead to long lawsuits. If you’re going through this process, you might keep hearing the word “discovery” being thrown around. But what does that mean?
We’ve put together this guide to help walk you through the discovery process and show you what happens next.
Let’s get started below
What Is the Discovery Process?
After you file a car accident lawsuit and hire a lawyer, you will enter the pre-trial process. This is when the discovery phase happens.
During discovery, your Polito & Harrington attorney (and the defendant’s attorney) will gather information about your case. This will allow them to find and put together evidence that’ll support your side of the story.
This process can include several steps. Here are a few of the most common.
This is the first step in the discovery phase.
The attornies on both sides of the case will put together and send interrogatories, or a serious of written questions. You and the defendant then have to answer these questions honestly and under oath.
In most cases, you, as the plaintiff will be able to send the interrogatories first. This will allow you to see what the defendant is claiming happened during the accident.
If there are any questions that are unclear, your attorney can help you object to them.
Request for Production of Documents
After both sides you and the defendant answer the interrogatories, both attornies will make requests for production of documents.
For example, the defense attorney may ask for all your medical records, treatment bills, vehicle repair receipts, proof of income, etc. Your attorney will do the same for the defendant.
There may be a business or organization that has relevant information to your case, but they themselves aren’t involved in your lawsuit. If this is the case, your attorney will issue a subpoena that orders the business to provide any necessary documents.
This might include getting your wage loss report from your work or your medical records from your doctor.
However, your attorney may not need to go through this step. So if you don’t hear your attorney talking about subpoenas, that’s normal.
Depositions give the attornies on both sides a chance to question anyone involved in the accident. Like interrogatories, you will be under oath when you answer these questions, but you will be talking to the defense attorney face to face instead of writing your answers on paper.
Both attornies can also question any witnesses, medical professionals, or other people involved in the accident/recovery.
Independent Medical Exam
Even if you’ve already had a medical exam, the defense will likely want to schedule their own exam.
Make sure you show up to this exam will all your medical records and the results of your previous exams. Remember, the medical examiner the defense hires will work for them, and they may try to make your injuries look less serious than they are.
Request for Admissions
This is less common than the other steps on this list.
Your attorney, for example, may request the defense remove certain details, such as the time of the accident or other information that shouldn’t be contested. If the defense refuses to remove these details, they’ll have to prove them to be true, which can cost time and money.
A request for admissions ensures all the details on both sides of the case are correct.
What Happens After Discovery?
After you finish the discovery phase, a couple of different things can happen next. Here’s what you need to know.
The discovery may uncover evidence that will be hard for the defendant to work around. If this is the case, they may decide to offer you a settlement instead.
Your attorney may negotiate with the defense attorney if the settlement is too low. After this, the defense may choose to raise the settlement and put an end to the case.
If you can’t come to an agreement about the settlement size (or if the defendant refuses to offer one), you have a decision to make.
The next step in the lawsuit process involves going to trial.
Spend some time thinking about your case before making a final decision.
Do you have a strong case? Talk to your attorney about whether or not they think you can win in court. In most cases, you’ll already have a strong case if you make it this far.
That said, you shouldn’t go to trial if you don’t think you can win. You’ll also want to make sure your attorney is willing to fight for your case.
If you have a strong case and a good lawyer, it’s probably worth it to move ahead with the trial.
Understanding the Steps in the Discovery Process
The discovery process might seem overwhelming, but it is an important part of your lawsuit. It gives your attorney the chance to gather evidence that supports your case.
If you’re unsure about what the process will look like exactly, spend some time talking to your attorney. They will help you understand the steps and keep you up to date with what they’re doing and when.
Were you recently involved in a car accident? Do you have other questions?
Make sure you take a look at the rest of our blog to learn more information that can help you win your case.