During the discovery phase of a case, the parties share details regarding the witnesses and evidence that will be used during the trial.
In 1938, the discovery process began in the United States legal system. Its beginnings were seen as far back as the 16th Century in England during the reign of Elizabeth the I, with further development and expansion made up until it became a part of our legal system.
Definition of the Discovery Phase in an Injury Lawsuit
Discovery is an exchange between the plaintiff and the defendant of information that includes facts, witnesses, and evidence. What this does is permit everyone involved to be aware of the facts of the case as perceived by each party.
Importance of the Discovery Process
When they are being accused of something, nobody likes surprises. Discovery allows both sides of a lawsuit to supply and request evidence. It prevents being ambushed at the trial because no one knew about the witnesses and what they would attest to seeing or the emails which supposedly took place. Discovery lets everyone lay their cards on the table, evening the playing field. But it is designed to ensure that neither party hides evidence nor that the facts in the case are brought to light. It is much less glamorous than television shows, and movies would make it appear, but it is invaluable.
Step-by-Step Guide to What Happens during Discovery in a Personal Injury Case
The first step is interrogatories, consisting of questions written by each lawyer for the other party, which must be answered truthfully. Typical questions for personal injury cases include how the injury happened or what treatment was needed.
The next step is admissions. Lawyers from both sides send a list of factual statements, which are answered in the format of “true” or “denied.” An unanswered question will be considered an admission (true) by the judge.
The third step in the process is the request for production. Regular documents such as medical reports, police reports, or medical receipts are frequently requested in a personal injury case. Lawyers for both parties make written requests for the documents.
The last step is the deposition, where each party is interviewed under oath and must answer questions about the case.
Requested Documents You Should Have Ready for Your Discovery Period
You should have your medical records and a release form that allows the defendant to see them, medical bills, prescriptions, epicrises (if you were hospitalized), employment records and any communication from your employer regarding your absence, reports from the police, pictures or video of the incident, tax returns, witness statements and any other material your lawyer feels is apropos.
Summarizing Discovery in the Process of an Injury Claim
Personal Injury lawsuits require patience. The purpose of discovery is to make sure no stone is left unturned. First, you ask some questions; after that, you will ask some yes/no questions to get a clearer picture, then you ask for the documents to support the answers to these questions, and finally, you interview those involved utilizing the information you acquired in steps 1 through 3. Yes, the process is long, and it seems like a lot, but with a highly accomplished personal injury attorney like those at Cohen & Riechelson, you can find yourself very pleased with your decision to move forward.
Timeframe for the Discovery Phase
The timeframe for discovery is impossible to answer with an exact number. Sometimes it can take six months to a year. The discovery phase is the longest part of the trial, but there are rules governing discovery and inspection of documents before litigation occurs, as provided by Rule 4:18, as well as time limits to produce documents requested by the other side. Since the discovery phase of a personal injury claim is the longest, you want an attorney who not only knows the way but can go the distance, no matter how far or how long.
Establishing Trust and Honesty with Your Attorney
It is important to present the likelihood that almost everything will come out in the discovery process. As such, it is of utmost urgency that you be completely honest with your lawyer (no surprises, remember?) because they will not be able to represent you effectively if you lie to them. You can lose your case almost instantly if you are found to have misled someone on purpose.
Frequently lawyers such as those at Cohen & Riechelson, create a discovery plan before the discovery section even starts. We will compose the witness list, identify the documents sought, and organize the deposition. With astounding thoroughness as part of our approach, you will feel assured that you are in good hands.
Navigate the Discovery Process with Help from Knowledgeable NJ Lawyers
The lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson are sharp, meticulous, and seasoned in all aspects of personal injury law. Our firm has dedicated over 50 years to helping those injured to successfully navigate the process of injury claims in Robbinsville, Princeton, Ewing, Hamilton, Woodbridge, and towns in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey.
If you would like a free, confidential consultation, please call at (609) 528-2596 or contact us online. Don’t miss the opportunity to have your case handled by distinguished injury law professionals.