What Is Legal Discovery?
The more you learn about how the average personal injury claim works, the better prepared you will be for the process ahead. Most personal injury claims involve a part called the discovery phase. The discovery phase of a lawsuit is for gathering evidence and information about an accident, as well as learning what evidence the opposing party has obtained. Discovery will also be part of an injury settlement, even if a case does not go to trial. If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case in California, learn what to expect from legal discovery. Contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney for more information specific to your unique case.
What Is Discovery In Law?
Legal discovery is a phase of a lawsuit in which both parties involved investigate the facts of the case. It is a pre-trial process used to obtain as much information as possible about a claim. In general, discovery involves accident investigation, evidence collection, subpoenas for documents and depositions. Federal laws allow parties to request almost any information and materials that will reasonably lead to the discovery of evidence. Some information is protected, including privileged information, juvenile criminal records and some medical records.
Steps Of Legal Discovery
The discovery phase often starts with a collection of information and evidence related to the accident and damages sought. The plaintiff and defendant (or, more often, their attorneys) will investigate the accident and search for any available evidence that proves or disproves fault. Evidence can include photographs, videos, police reports, accident reports, eyewitness statements, expert testimony, accident reconstruction and medical records.
Your lawyer can subpoena certain records, or demand the other side of the case produce documents or evidence. Subpoenaing a defendant’s cellphone records, for example, could lead to proof of texting and driving in a car accident lawsuit. Discovery will also involve depositions. Depositions, requests for admissions and interrogatories are all processes one side of the case can use to obtain information from the other side.
A deposition records a witness’s live testimony under oath. A court reporter will record a deposition, typically in a lawyer’s office, for use in the case later. An attorney can be present to help the person being deposed answer questions without unintentionally incriminating him or herself or hurting the injury claim. A request for admissions also asks witnesses questions. It is a process in which one party will ask the other to admit or deny specific facts related to the case.
These questions aim to prove someone’s liability by convincing him or her to admit fault. Interrogatories are similar, but they involve more open-ended questions. They could ask a defendant’s side of the case to release all evidence it intends to use during the claim, for example. The typical discovery phase during a personal injury lawsuit involves many processes to collect as much evidence and information as possible.
Why You Need An Attorney
It can be critical to hire a lawyer to help you through the discovery phase of your personal injury lawsuit. Legal discovery can be a tense and difficult time for an injured accident victim. It is easy to say or do the wrong thing during interrogations or other steps of the discovery phase of your trial. Admitting any fault as to your accident, for example, could immediately discredit you or lead to a lesser award offered.
With a lawyer representing you, you will be able to protect your rights and optimize the chances of bringing a successful suit against a defendant. Your lawyer can stand by your side during every step of your lawsuit, including pre-trial discovery processes. An attorney can advise you as to how to answer a defendant’s questions during discovery for your best odds of securing compensation. A lawyer can take many steps on your behalf to strengthen your claim to damages.