What happens during discovery in a personal injury case?

The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled before trial — for good reason. By the time the opposing parties face off in a courtroom, the discovery process has usually laid bare the strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the case. That tends to encourage parties to reach a negotiated settlement rather than fighting things out in court.

The discovery process can involve any (or all) of the following things:

  • Requests for admission: These are a set of facts that one party asks the other to either agree with or deny.
  • Requests for inspection: These occur when one party wants to personally examine certain pieces of physical evidence, like the remains of a wrecked vehicle.
  • Requests for documents: If one party requests documents related to the case, the other party has to either provide copies of the documents, permit access to the originals or show the court why they shouldn’t have to produce them. This may include electronic documents.
  • Interrogatories: These are a series of written questions submitted to one side from the other. The answers are also given in writing.
  • Depositions: These are statements taken from the opposing parties and their witnesses, under oath. Giving a deposition is very much like giving evidence in a trial, although they are taken outside the courtroom.

The discovery process can seem long and complicated, but the court will generally limit how many requests for discovery each side has to endure. It’s wise to be patient during this time because discovery is a necessary part of every personal injury claim and your case will get clearer with each step.