Available 24/7 for Consultation
Call for Consultation

What Is The Discovery Process During A Personal Injury Case?

Posted on 03/15/24

The first phase of a personal injury lawsuit is called the “discovery process.” This is not a phrase most people outside of the legal realm are usually familiar with, but if you have a personal injury claim against another party, this is something you likely will be involved in.

The Discovery Process – What Does It Mean?

Imagine two high school football teams gearing up for a big Friday night game, but before they hit the field, they need to learn as much as they can about each other. 

That’s a bit like the discovery process in a personal injury lawsuit. This is the part where both sides – the person who is suing (the plaintiff) and the person or company being sued (the defendant) – gather information from each other. 

The goal of this information-gathering? To build their cases by uncovering all the facts about the incident that led to the lawsuit.

Steps of the Discovery Process

The discovery process includes several key steps, each designed to gather different types of information. A breakdown of the information include:

  1. Interrogatories. These are written questions that one party sends to the other to be answered in writing. Think of them as a written interview. They might ask about the details of the injury, how it happened, and the effects it has had on your life.
  2. Depositions. Depositions are a bit like interrogatories but in person. They involve a face-to-face question-and-answer session where attorneys from both sides can ask questions. These sessions are recorded by a court reporter, or sometimes even videotaped, to ensure that everything said can be referred back to later.
  3. Requests for Documents. During this step, you might be asked to provide copies of medical records, emails, text messages, or anything else that could be relevant to your case. Similarly, you can request documents from the other party that might support your claim.
  4. Requests for Admissions. Here, one party in the case asks the other to admit certain facts are true, which can help simplify the issues that need to be resolved during the trial.
  5. Physical or Mental Examinations. If your physical or mental condition is a key part of the case, the other side might ask for an independent medical examination (IME). This means a doctor or psychologist who isn’t previously involved in the case will examine you and provide a report.

Why Is Discovery So Important?

The discovery process might seem like just paperwork and questions, something that extends the time from the incident to your receiving compensation. However, discovery is actually foundational to your case. It allows both sides to know what evidence might be presented in court, reduces the chances of surprises during trial, and can even lead to a settlement without going to court. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case encourages negotiations and can make the trial process smoother if it proceeds.

What Happens After Discovery?

Once the discovery process wraps up, both sides will have a clearer picture of the case. This can lead to further negotiations, a settlement, or, if necessary, preparation for trial. It’s worth noting that many personal injury cases settle after discovery, as the evidence collected during this phase often points clearly to the outcome of a trial. Speak to a personal injury attorney in Laredo to learn more.