What Is the Discovery Phase of a Personal Injury Case?
In all personal injury lawsuits that go to trial, both the plaintiffs and defendants must go through the process of discovery. This will give both parties the opportunity to obtain and submit all evidence to support their cases, and it is a necessary but often complex procedure that will require the skills and experience of a personal injury attorney.
As the plaintiff, you and your attorney will try to obtain evidence to support your claim, and the defendants will try to obtain evidence to try and build an effective defense against it. The length of the discovery phase can vary, but the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure limits the discovery period to 180 days from the date initial disclosures are due.
While you and your attorney were preparing your case, you should have already obtained copies of important documents and information that you will need to support your claim, such as the following:
- Accident reports
- Police reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Medical reports
- Mechanic’s reports and body shop estimates
- Proof of lost wages and other economic damages
The defendants have also likely obtained similar or additional information they plan to use in their defense.
Types of Information You Can Get
During the discovery period, both parties will request information from the other that is pertinent to the case. The law requires that all parties be completely forthcoming with the evidence and information they have obtained, and both parties have the right to receive all information the other party plans to use as evidence.
The discovery phase is important for you and your attorney to develop your strategy for proving the other party was at fault for your injuries and provided the information is not privileged (that is, subject to attorney-client privilege), you can get the following information about your case during the discovery phase from the defendant:
- Depositions from the insurance adjuster so that you will have their testimony and know what they will say
- Witness accounts and identifying information
- Statements from others who may have pertinent information about the case
- Reports and other information regarding the cause of the accident or injury
- Testimony from experts and specialists
- Forensic evidence
Obtaining Information through Discovery
Parties in a personal injury lawsuit will typically have 30 days to respond to a request during discovery. The most common methods for obtaining information include the following:
- Requests for documents – You may request copies of all documents related to your case. You may obtain both print and electronic copies of documents, and the defendant may not object to providing the documents on the basis that they are publicly available.
- Admissions of fact – You will have to prove all the facts you rely on in your case, and you can use an admission of fact, or a request for admissions, to include information that is not in dispute. This helps to shorten the process by certifying that certain information is true and accurate and has no need for further scrutiny.
You can include things like your name, address, and other identifying information, as well as the same information from the other party. For instance, you may use the process to establish, in fact, that the at-fault party was driving their car at the time of the accident
- Depositions – During discovery, each party may depose certain individuals to provide sworn testimony. This includes expert testimony from recognized specialists in their field. As a plaintiff, your lawyer may depose the defendant’s witnesses or experts to poke holes in their defense, or they may depose you and put you on the stand if they feel your testimony may help sway the jury.
- Interrogatories – Different from requests for admission, interrogatories are a list of questions that the other party must answer. They can contain as many as 30 questions, and they can include just about any type of question related to the case. The interrogatories offer a type of insurance for you in case the opposition tries to deny something they said or change their position on key points related to the case.
Contact Us for Help
The Dallas personal injury lawyers of The Benton Law Firm have extensive experience with the discovery process in personal injury lawsuits, and we are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (214) 777-7777 to request a free consultation.