What happens in the discovery phase of personal injury litigation?

The discovery phase of litigation for a personal injury case in Arvada is the process where both sides in a lawsuit gather and exchange information in order to learn more about the circumstances of the dispute. This stage of the case could take a few weeks, months, or even years depending on the complexity of the case.

Elements in the Discovery Process of Civil Litigation: Interrogatories

The procedures involved in the discovery phase can vary and don’t necessarily occur in a set order. But there are common elements that typically make up this stage of the claims process.

Generally this is the first step in the discovery phase. Both sides are presented a list of written questions prepared by attorneys. There is a deadline by which to provide answers. All answers are given under oath.

The questions will depend on the case. Let’s say the dispute concerns a slip and fall accident at a hotel in which someone suffered multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury. The victim’s attorney will present questions to the owner of the hotel in order to discover if the owner knew of the dangerous condition. There may also be questions regarding actions taken to avoid such an incident.

Another scenario is when someone has been seriously injured in a traffic accident. The opposing side’s attorney may present questions to the victim to discover the severity and nature of those injuries. There might be questions regarding treatment or even job history if the individual claims he or she cannot work.

Elements in the Discovery Process of Civil Litigation: Document Production

Another common element in the discovery phase is producing documents and anything else of relevance to the case. For example, in a slip and fall case a victim’s attorney might seek maintenance records from an owner to learn if there was a failure to repair a hazard. Or the attorney may request video surveillance that showed the incident.

An attorney may also request the victim’s medical records, including medical history. This can be very helpful in proving one’s injuries. Additionally, the attorney will want to see all medical bills/statements.

Elements in the Discovery Process of Civil Litigation: Depositions

This is yet another means of uncovering information and presenting facts. As opposed to answering written questions, the attorney presents these questions to:

  • the other party;
  • expert witnesses; or
  • eyewitnesses in person and under oath.

The process can be relatively short or may take several hours.

Elements in the Discovery Process of Civil Litigation: IMEs

Sometimes the discovery phase includes scheduling an IME or Independent Medical Examiner. This may be necessary if there are questions concerning the extent or severity of one’s injuries. The other party’s attorney may also request this in order to establish if the accident was the actual cause of those injuries.

How Discovery May Impact a Personal Injury Settlement

With the vast amount of information gathered and exchanged during this phase, it’s not uncommon to reach a settlement as both parties begin to see the full extent of evidence available. If not, the case will proceed all the way to trial.

Regardless of the type of accident and even if you expect the case to settle, it’s important to seek legal representation from an attorney who has courtroom experience. Get help from attorney D.J. Banovitz by calling 303-300-5060 to set up a consultation to discuss your case and learn more about the various phases of the settlement and litigation process.