What is the discovery process in a personal injury claim?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | PERSONAL INJURY - Personal Injury

Believe it or not, there are very few “Perry Mason moments” in a courtroom. Ideally, nothing should ever come as a significant surprise to either side of a case once a trial starts. 

The discovery process is a normal part of a personal injury case, and it’s designed to help both sides gather as much relevant information as possible before a trial begins. 

Here are some common steps to anticipate

Every case is unique, but you can generally expect the following to occur:

  • Interrogatories: These are written questions each side sends to the other, answered under a signed oath. They usually include questions about the background of both sides, the incident that led to the victim’s injuries and things that have occurred since.
  • Depositions: Depositions involve sworn verbal testimony from witnesses, the parties involved in the lawsuit and expert witnesses. Attorneys for both sides can ask questions, and a court reporter records the entire proceeding, but they occur outside the courtroom.
  • Requests for documents: Each party can request documents from the other that are relevant to the case, such as medical records, accident reports and insurance policies.
  • Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs): In certain cases, the defendant may request an IME to assess the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. This is designed to see if the physical findings are consistent with the plaintiff’s claims.
  • Site Inspections: In some cases (particularly premises liability claims), both parties may want to inspect the site to gather evidence and assess the conditions of the property.
  • Requests for admissions: These are factual statements that each side may be asked to either admit or deny. This can help narrow down the issues in dispute.

Discovery is also an opportunity for the parties to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their position – and their opponent’s position. This can sometimes lead to new negotiations in the weeks and days before the trial commences, and may ultimately help the two sides reach a settlement.