Even if your car accident case seems straightforward, there can be a surprising amount of unexpected issues come up. And if you don’t know how to properly navigate them, then you could end up losing out on the compensation that you need.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you’re not caught by surprise during settlement negotiations or litigation. This includes just about every aspect of the discovery process.
What is discovery?
In short, discovery is the process where you gather documents and sworn statements to learn what information the other side possesses and to better gauge what their arguments will be. There are many parts of the discovery process, and you can use any combination of them. They include:
- Depositions: A deposition is the taking of sworn testimony outside of court and at a time that pre-dates the trial. Since the statements given during a deposition are given under oath, you can use a witness’s depositional statements against them at trial if they testify in a surprising and contradictory fashion. Depositions are also a great way to figure out which arguments the defense is going to lay out in your case.
- Requests for production: Depending on the facts of your case, there might be a significant amount of documentary evidence. This is often the case when a lawsuit is being pursued against a truck company that has a lot of trucking logs and maintenance records. Sending the defense a request for production of documents can help you gain access to the information that you need.
- Requests for admissions: If you want to firm up some facts, then you can send a request for admissions to the defense. Here, the defendant will be required to either admit or deny the stated facts, and if the response is untimely, then the fact or facts are deemed admitted.
- Interrogatories: If you don’t want to take the time and spend the money to conduct depositions, then you might want to consider sending the defense interrogatories. These are written questions that can mirror what you would’ve asked during a deposition, so they can prove insightful and helpful in crafting your legal strategy.
What if you don’t get what you need?
If after trying to informally resolve a discovery dispute you still find yourself with inadequate responses from the defense, then you can take the matter to the court. Here, a judge may order the defense to abide by discovery requests within a certain period of time, and the court might even award attorney fees if there was a significant amount of unreasonable delay.
Don’t overlook the importance of discovery
You can learn a lot from the discovery process. Although it might seem boring or time-consuming, it really can set the stage for successful litigation. That’s why as you prepare to enter the legal arena, you’ll want to make sure that you know how to competently navigate the discovery process.