What Is the Discovery Phase of a Personal Injury Case?
Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2022 at 8:31 am
There are several phases to a personal injury lawsuit. The money that you can recover can make a world of difference when you’re paying your medical bills and worrying about your lost wages. The better you understand the process, the greater your chances of success. When you work with a California personal injury attorney, you’ll have knowledge and experience on your side.
The decisions you make immediately after an accident are incredibly important to your personal injury case. You should get immediate medical help and keep copies of all your medical records and medical bills. This ensures that your injuries are properly treated and can help prove your injuries were a result of the accident.
The accident should be reported as soon as possible, and you should keep the California statute of limitations in mind. This is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in pursuit of compensation. In California, you must file your lawsuit with the courts within two years of the date of the accident. If you don’t’ file by the deadline, you’ll miss your opportunity to pursue compensation through the court system.
Once you file an insurance claim, which is different from filing a lawsuit, your claim will go through several stages:
- Preliminary investigation
- Demand for compensation letter to the insurance company or at-fault party
- Formal lawsuit for damages filed in the court
- Negotiate a settlement
- Trial, if negotiations fail
What Is Discovery?
The discovery phase is part of pre-trial preparation. It is one of the longest phases. The purpose of this process is to avoid delays during a trial since each side will have all the information needed to move forward in court.
It’s the time when both parties exchange relevant information that’s related to the accident. This can include witness statements, details of medical treatment, proof of damages, and how the accident happened. There are a variety of tools used during discovery that can support your case.
During discovery, you may be asked questions by the opposing counsel. This is also an opportunity to request information from any of the other parties involved. In California, this phase of a personal injury lawsuit is governed by the Civil Discovery Act of 1986.
What Are the Steps During Discovery?
It is important to make your insurance claim and secure the services of a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The average length of time for discovery can range from six months to one year, depending on the complexity of the case.
Investigation of the claim can take several months, and negotiations can also take several months. Steps during discovery include:
Interrogatories: This is another word for questions. Interrogatories are a chance for one side to question the other. The attorneys will send a set of questions to the opposing party. All of these must be answered honestly and to the best of the defendant’s or plaintiff’s ability.
California law limits attorneys to 35 interrogatories with the requirement that a response must be sent within 30 days. Interrogatories are useful in personal injury cases as they help determine underlying factors that may not have come out in witness statements or a police report.
For example, attorneys can inquire about alcohol consumption, even if the driver was not over the legal limit. In the case of a dog bite injury, the attorney can inquire if the dog has ever shown any prior aggressive behavior.
Production of documents: During this phase of discovery, attorneys from each side can request certain documents. This helps the opposing parties to learn more about the case and prepare for negotiation or trial. The documents can include things like photos of the injury, lost wages report, medical bills, and accident reports.
Request for admission of facts: The attorney for the plaintiff must prove several facts that support the claim. However, not all these facts may be contested by the defendant. The process of proving uncontested facts can waste time and money. Therefore, each attorney can request that the other side admits to facts that may be uncontested before negotiation or trial.
Depositions: This is the final stage of discovery and probably the one you’re most familiar with. Depositions are often part of movies and television shows. A deposition takes place under oath and is recorded by a court reporter and possibly a videographer.
During a deposition, the attorneys ask questions of witnesses and the other party. This allows attorneys to prepare a trial strategy and offers the opportunity to develop other questions they can ask in open court.
Contact Tiemann Law Firm if You Were Injured Because of Someone Else’s Negligence
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligent behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. This money can help pay your medical bills and replace lost wages if you have been unable to work.
Call our office today at (916) 999-9000 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.