Is Gathering Evidence For Your Lawsuit The Formal Discovery Period?
Your personal injury lawyer may have mentioned the discovery period of a personal injury claim or case to you. If you were confused, you should know that this is the period where both you and the defendant discover important and relevant information about the personal injury claim or case.
If your personal injury case goes to court, your personal injury lawyer in Fontana will immediately be working on the discovery phase with you. This is the phase of the lawsuit where you find out more about the personal injury accident from the defendant’s standpoint and vice versa. You’ll probably be receiving all sorts of documents from the defendant and vice versa.
This phase tends to take place out of court. It doesn’t matter if the case eventually ends up going to trial. You and the defendant and your lawyers will be in a room opposite each other and you’ll each be discussing your side of the case and giving (the other side) valuable information relating to it. Both parties can generally ask for a broad scope of information. However, there is some information that can’t be gathered. The law does not allow for it.
What information does the law allow you to discover?
You and your personal injury lawyer are legally allowed to ask for any information relating to the lawsuit. This is the case even if it’s only one half of one percent relevant. Just remember that privileged or legally protected information is generally off limits. Your personal injury lawyer will probably ask for these pieces of information:
● Evidence from any witnesses or eyewitnesses that is relevant to the case, if only slightly.
● Anything anyone material the case said in relation to the case.
● Identities of people who may know additional and valuable information about the case
● Detailed information about the business operations where your personal injury accident (slip and fall) took place.
● Relevant documents
● The personal and professional backgrounds of witnesses. This includes their education levels.
What can’t you discover in a personal injury case?
There are limits to the information you can discover and the people you can interview in a personal injury case. This is to prevent personal injury lawyers from abusing their “powers!”
Confidential conversations – people who are in certain relationships may be prohibited by law from interrogations or depositions. This is a legal measure to protect these people. People in the following relationships are protected by law:
● Husband and wife
● Lawyer and client
● A doctor and his/her patient
● A religious adviser and his/her advisee
Private affairs – according to the courts, some aspects of peoples’ lives are to remain confidential. This includes information that is completely irrelevant to the lawsuit in question. Examples of information that is considered to be private affairs include:
● Health issues and body conditions
● Anything related to intimacy/sexuality
● Anything related to spirituality and/or religion
● Relationships between close family
Third parties have privacy rights – the privacy of other parties matters to the courts. These would include your aunt. Therefore, you can only dig up so much information on and about these people during the discovery period.
Your lawsuit is off-limits to the public – this means that what happens in the court that is related to your lawsuit stays in the court.
Procedures used during the discovery period
Lawyers can use four types of procedures to gather information during the discovery period. They are described in further detail below:
● Depositions – this is where the two sides and lawyers sit down opposite each other and ask a series of questions relating to the case.
● Requests for the production of evidence – the defense may ask you to give them documents pertinent to the personal injury accident. These can include mortgage documents or property liens.
● Interrogatories – the defense will essentially send you a list of questions that will gather more information about the personal injury accident. You are required to answer them.
● Requests for admission – the defense will ask you to swear under oath that your answers are truthful.