Once you are injured by another person's careless actions, you may have to take steps to get the compensation that exceeds what the insurance company wants to pay you. After all, you can only be paid for your pain and suffering and lost wages along with your medical expenses and other damages by filing suit. You may be somewhat surprised by the way things work once you file suit and go forward with your claim in court. Read on to learn more about the all-important discovery process and how you might benefit from it before you spend a moment in court.
It's all about the sharing of information
You may realize that taking someone to court has to be a bit adversarial, but the justice system allows parties in a suit or other legal proceedings to do so armed with quite a bit of knowledge about the case. Knowing what you are facing in court is the cornerstone of the discovery process, which begins before your trial does. This important set of tasks ensure that there are no surprises during court and that both sides begin the trial with as much information about the case as possible. This goal is accomplished using three different avenues.
1. Document production: This discovery procedure is exactly what it sounds like. Each side sends the other requests for certain specific documents. When the word document is used here, it means paperwork, computer disks, emails, photographs, flash drives, recordings, videos and more. Any form of information that can be copied and handed over to the other side may be requested.
The trick is knowing what to request, of course, since neither side is compelled to just offer up a given piece of evidence about the case to the other side out of the goodness of their hearts. This is a legal process, and it has its limits. In most cases, the other side is given a certain amount of time to comply with the requested information. When it comes to personal injury cases, you might find the following types of information in play:
- The accident report
- Medical records
- Photographs of the wrecked vehicle and your injuries
- Witness statements
2. Interrogatories: When each side seeks more information, they create and send a kind of question and answer form to the other side. Generally, this form poses statements that you (with your personal injury attorney) either confirm or deny.
3. The Deposition: This is a meeting between all parties and testimony is given in private and under oath. Anything said at a deposition can be used in the courtroom.
You may be offered a settlement to end your case before it hits the courtroom, once the other side sees your evidence and the full extent of your case. Speak to a personal injury attorney at once to guide you through this process. Click here for more information on finding a lawyer near you.