After you file a personal injury lawsuit against another party, you will go through a period known as a discovery. The discovery process allows both sides to exchange information before either settling the case or taking the case through the court system. The three key elements to any discovery include written requests for documents, depositions and interrogatories.
Written Requests For Documents
During the discovery, both sides can ask the other side for written documents. These written documents generally pertain to evidence and information related to the case. All of these requests must be filed with the court system. The court will also receive copies of any documents that are requested as well.
Most states do not limit the number of documents that can be requested during the discovery process. However, there are generally response time limits in place to make this a more timely process.
Both sides can file requests through the court for depositions. Depositions are where one-side requests to question a potential witness in the case, who in this case is referred to as a deponent.
Depositions are generally held at an attorney's office. However, the deponent must swear under oath to tell the truth, just like in court. Both the defendant and plaintiff's attorneys may question the deponent. The deponent can also have their own attorney present to represent them. Everything that is said in a deposition is recorded.
Everything that is learned at a deposition is shared with both sides. This allows both sides to fully prepare for their case. Depositions can last less than an hour, or they can take days. It really depends on your case and how much information that particular person has to offer in regards to your case.
This is the one area of the discovery process that does not require a court filing. An interrogatory is essentially an opened ended information-seeking question. Each side may send the other side a certain number of interrogatories that must be answered within a set timeline. Your state's specific laws on the matter determine the number of interrogatories that can be sent, and the timeline for responding.
However, just like with the depositions, the person who answers the interrogatory must sign an oath that everything they have written is true.
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits go through a period of discovery. During the discovery, either side may pursue all three of the steps above in order to understand the case. At any point during the discovery process, both sides can sit down and discuss a settlement instead of taking the case to court.Share