Discovery — The Pre-Trial Process That Helps Your Personal Injury Case
One of the most important parts of any personal injury lawsuit occurs outside the courtroom and before anyone presents a word to the jury. It is known as discovery. What is it? And how can it help you build a better case? Here's what every victim needs to know.
What Is Discovery?
The United States' legal system is based on the idea that each case should be decided on its merits rather than any unfair advantages. So it mandates a pre-trial period when both parties exchange information and evidence — essentially showing their hands to the other.
Discovery, as this process is called, lets both sides request a wide range of information or answers relevant to the case at hand. Unless there are valid reasons to object to a request, each party must produce the required response.
During discovery, you may ask the other party a list of questions under oath or have them admit or deny a series of statements of fact. Each side may request documents, evidence, or access to evidence held by the other side. And you may ask them or others to sit for depositions under oath.
How Does Discovery Help You?
No matter how good you believe your case to be, discovery improves it. How?
First, you see the main points of the other party's argument. This allows you and your legal team to develop more effective defenses against accusations and offensive tactics. There are fewer surprises in court.
Second, because answers are given under oath, you will not be surprised by witness testimony during the trial. Even though you may have spoken to witnesses during your own investigation, depositions and answers under oath mean they cannot change their stories.
Third, you gain access to evidence or documentation you would not normally have. This includes evidence solely in the possession of the defendant. And it even includes evidence that you may not be aware exists. You may request that evidence not revealed during discovery be barred from trial.
Finally, knowing the strengths of both cases gives you an accurate feeling for your chances of winning large damages in court. You can use this gauge to determine if and when to negotiate a settlement.
Where Can You Learn More?
Because this period can make or break your personal injury case, start by learning more about it. Meet with an experienced personal injury law firm in your state today to get answers to your questions about discovery.
For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer near you.