No one starts their day expecting an injury, but when a sudden serious injury occurs due to someone else’s negligence, it’s a traumatic experience—sometimes with life-altering impacts on the victim. Whether from a car accident, a slip-and-fall injury, medical malpractice, or an injury from a defective product, if another party’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing causes an injury to someone else, the at-fault party is responsible for the victim’s damages. In a personal injury case, “damages” refer to the consequences of the injury to the victim, like their medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Most personal injury claims are settled out-of-court through an experienced Plano personal injury attorney’s negotiations with the appropriate insurance company. This could be the malpractice insurance of a negligent provider in a medical malpractice case, the auto insurance of a negligent driver, or the property liability insurance of a negligent dog owner in a dog bite case. Only about five percent of personal injury claims require a trial, but when a case does go to trial, both defendants (the at-fault party) and the plaintiff (the injury victim) need to understand what happens during discovery.
When is the Discovery Period in a Personal Injury Case?
If a personal injury claim for damages requires a lawsuit because the insurance company wrongfully denies a claim or seriously underestimates a claim’s value when offering a settlement, the period of discovery occurs after the victim files a petition for a court trial and the defendant is served a citation. Discovery in Texas personal injury cases lasts 180 days.
Discovery is essential to present a compelling case for compensation at the trial.
What Happens During Discovery in a Personal Injury Court Case?
During discovery, lawyers for both sides of a personal injury case exchange all relevant information and evidence in the case. This process may include the following:
- Requests for documents
- Requests for depositions (witness testimony)
- Exchanges of interrogatories (questions asked to both parties under oath to be answered in writing)
- Requests for photo or video evidence
- Physical or mental examinations
Common document requests during discovery in personal injury cases include requests for medical reports, medical bills, and proof of income.
What is a Request for Admission and/or Production During Discovery?
During discovery, attorneys often exchange requests for admission. These can range from a direct request for an admission of guilt to an admission to any facts relevant to the case.
A request for production is a request from one side to the other to produce a specific record, receipt, document, photo, video, or other solid evidence to support a claim.
During discovery, attorneys may not demand privileged information from the other party.
What Do I Have to Do During Discovery?
The discovery process is essential to the success of your personal injury claim. The attorneys must sort through hundreds of documents, receipts, and other evidence to support their client’s side of the dispute. They make requests of the other party and of doctors and accident reconstruction experts and then wait for answers and responses. During this time, your attorney will advise you of your responsibilities and obligations, including your depositions and any documents or evidence you need to produce.
It’s important to carefully follow your attorney’s counsel during the discovery period since this is when your lawyer works to craft the most compelling case possible to recover compensation for your damages.