Discovery is more than the channel for Naked and Afraid, Deadliest Catch, and Moonshiners. Legal “discovery” is also used for a critical part of the personal injury litigation process. What’s learned during discovery often makes or breaks cases.
What is Discovery?
Discovery refers to how the parties involved in a lawsuit gather information from each other and, when necessary, from third parties to gather relevant facts about the case. This information can include documents, testimony, videos, emails, texts, photos, notes, medical records, and physical evidence. It can also lead to the identification of new witnesses or previously unknown evidence.
Several different methods can be used. They include:
- Interrogatories: This is a written set of questions one party sends to the other. The receiving party must answer these questions in writing under oath or respond with a valid objection
- Requests for production of documents: One party requests to the other party they produce specific documents (on paper or in electronic form) that are relevant to the case
- Requests for admissions: This involves asking the other party to admit or deny certain statements relevant to the case. It’s a way to potentially force the opposing party to admit to damaging facts in the case. It can also narrow the issues that the parties disagree about
- Depositions: A party and witnesses are questioned under oath by the opposing party’s lawyer, then their lawyer. Expert witnesses can be deposed if they’re part of the case. Depositions are often recorded, a transcript is made, and testimony can be used as evidence at trial
Discovery can be a lengthy and complex process. Depending on the case, it can take months or years to complete.
What’s My Role in the Discovery Process?
After we receive discovery requests from the defendant, we’ll work with you to prepare and serve answers to the defendant.
We will also prepare you for your deposition. We’ll go through a “dry run” with questions we’ll ask and those we think the defendant’s attorney will ask. You must answer honestly, including admitting you don’t remember if that’s the case.
How Does Discovery Help Me?
Ideally, discovery will uncover facts and testimony that support your case. They may result in a faster settlement for a greater amount than expected. The more facts we know, the better we can represent you.
Uncovering damaging information is also helpful in a way. To competently and professionally represent you and your interests, we must know about all the evidence, whether it aids your case or not. It helps us decide what kind of settlement to recommend you accept or what we think your chances of success at trial will be. We also don’t want to be surprised by bad news if we go to trial.
Depositions not only provide important information, but we get a good idea of how the parties and witnesses will handle testifying if the case goes to trial. Someone may appear open, calm, credible, evasive, angry, under control, or overly emotional to a jury. Jury members may see the person as believable, relatable, unfriendly, or unlikeable. These negative and positive perceptions can influence case outcomes, and we consider this when advising our clients on what to do.
Discovery can also be a valuable tool for settling a case. By the time discovery is over, all of the parties’ proverbial cards should be on the table for all to see. Discovery allows the parties and their attorneys to fully understand the case and how it may play out at trial. With fewer unknowns, both sides should understand your case’s settlement value, making settling easier.
Speak With An Experienced Personal Injury and Mesothelioma Attorney
If another party’s negligence injures you or a loved one, Satterley & Kelley, PLLC has decades of experience representing accident victims. To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable Louisville lawyer, contact our law offices online or by telephone at 855-385-9532.