Discovery in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Discovery is a phase in a slip and fall accident lawsuit that allows both parties to learn more about the case. Discovery is daunting for many plaintiffs, who must participate in events such as interrogatories and depositions. The best way to handle discovery is with assistance from an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall attorney. Your lawyer can guide you through each step of the discovery phase while protecting your rights.
What Is Discovery?
Every civil lawsuit begins with the discovery phase. Discovery can last a few weeks or a few months, depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of time that the parties must wait for their court date. The purpose of discovery is to bring both parties to the same level of knowledge and understanding about the case. This can prevent surprises during the actual trial and make the legal process more efficient.
What Are the Parts of Discovery?
During discovery, both parties will exchange information, facts and evidence about the slip and fall case. The attorney representing the plaintiff and the attorney for the defendant will learn as much about the slip and fall accident and lawsuit as possible. They will do this using a variety of different methods:
- Requests for production. These are written requests for evidence related to the slip and fall lawsuit. One attorney may submit a request to the other side of the case for evidence such as documents, photographs or surveillance footage. Both parties must share any information that is relevant to the case with the other side by law.
- Request for medical records. The plaintiff’s medical records are one of the most common types of documents requested by the defendant’s side of the case. Medical records are critical in showing what injuries were suffered, how the victim was injured and the prognosis for recovery.
- Interrogatories. An interrogatory is a written questionnaire that must be answered under oath. This means that the answers and information given must be the truth as the party knows it, under penalty of perjury.
- Depositions. Depositions, like interrogatories, also ask questions that must be answered under oath. They are in-person interviews, however, transcribed by an attending court reporter. During a deposition, the attorney for the other side will ask the questions.
- Independent medical examinations. In some cases, the defendant’s attorney will request the slip and fall accident victim to undergo an independent medical exam from an allegedly unbiased third-party doctor to verify the injuries claimed.
Depositions are often the most intimidating part of discovery. With help from an attorney, however, you can prepare for the questions that will most likely be asked. Your lawyer can work with you to teach you what to expect during your deposition. Your lawyer can also attend the deposition with you, if desired.
How to Prepare for Discovery During a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
The discovery phase of a slip and fall case is something you must take seriously. Your actions, behaviors and responses will be recorded and turned into public record, meaning the other side of your case can use the information against you at trial. With help from an attorney, you can adequately prepare for discovery and use it to your advantage.
Keep in mind that you will only have to go through the discovery phase if your slip and fall case goes to trial. The vast majority of slip and fall accident claims in California reach settlements. If your case does involve discovery, work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you go through each step while advocating for your best interests. A lawyer can help you feel more prepared for interrogatories and depositions, as well as take over communications with the other side of the case for you.