How the Discovery Process Works in a Car Accident Case
After a serious car accident, it may be necessary for you to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party (or parties) to recover compensation for things such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Once you’ve filed your claim in court, your case proceeds into the “pre-trial” and “discovery” stages. But what exactly is involved in the discovery process? The following is a quick overview of what you can expect to happen:
- Interrogatories: Discovery typically begins with each side submitting a written questionnaire to the other side, with sets of questions called interrogatories. The other party must answer these questions under oath. Your attorney might choose to serve these questions to the defendant along with the lawsuit, which forces the defendant to answer questions before you have to do the same.
- Documents: You are required to produce certain documents, such as medical records, proof of income and bills for treatment and/or car repairs, along with any other documents the other party requests.
- Depositions: Depositions are sworn written statements made under oath. They differ from interrogatories in that they are not responses to submitted questions — rather, they are simple statements of the facts of the case. They are, in most cases, the best way to find out what a person knows. If you had a witness to the accident and were able to attain his or her contact information, you could have that person submit a deposition about what he or she saw at the scene.
- Independent medical exams: The defense may request that you undergo an independent medical examination so that a neutral party may examine your injuries. Of course, the neutrality of this doctor may be disputed, so it’s important that you also get examined by your own physician and keep records of diagnoses and treatments to compare to the results of the independent exam.