Most if not all clients find litigation to be extremely stressful. The reason is because the client needs to answer a voluminous amount of questions through a process called discovery before their case ever gets to trial. Discovery is the process by which each side gets to ask questions to the other side about the case months, or years, before trial. Some of the questions are easy to answer, while others require documentation. Although it can feel overwhelming, it is more simple once it is broken down. Different types of discovery include form and specialized interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions.
If your state is like California, the judicial council may have prepared a list of questions called form interrogatories. These general, basic fact-gathering questions are on a pre-made form that contains check boxes which tell you what questions need to be answered. Some types of questions asked in form interrogatories request basic information such as name, residence, and medical providers after the incident/accident. These are typically the easiest questions to answer.
Custom-made questions by the attorney are called special or specialized interrogatories. Specialized interrogatories are often used to help with identifying issues or documents, such as identifying documents that support a claim for loss of earnings. Also, questions that are not included within the form interrogatories document can be asked. For example, a special interrogatory may request information about medical treatment BEFORE the date of injury. Up to thirty-five (35) specialized interrogatories may be asked and additional questions must be included with a declaration from the asking an attorney such as Personal Injury Lawyer This declaration must show good cause why additional questions are being propounded.
Requests for Production of Documents
This type of discovery is requesting actual documents to support your claims. Types of documents that may be requested are medical bills, insurance policies, estimates or appraisals, photographs of injuries or the location of the incident, correspondence relating to the incident, video/audio recordings pertinent to the incident, and virtually all other forms of “documentation” that may be in existence and may be used as evidence or support of a claim made by an injured party. In today’s evolving world fueled by smart phones and electronic communication, it may be easy to forget that text messages, social media posts, and emails are considered as “documents” that are included in requests for production.
Requests for Admissions
Requests for Admissions are used to attempt to have the other party admit to any sort of liability. If this fact is to be admitted, then the other party need not spend additional time or money on establishing this fact. Also, in some complex cases there may be contradicting witness statements. Perhaps a witness states that the injured plaintiff in a car accident was actually texting while driving before the accident occurred. A Request for Admission would be used to have the plaintiff admit to this fact, and thus take on some of the liability for the accident.
Depositions are when the opposing counsel gets to ask the client questions in person to discover what happened during the accident, and any other facts that are reasonably related to the accident. This is another fact gathering tool for the attorneys. Sometimes depositions are even video taped. Like all forms of discovery, it is a chance to find out what happened, but it can be extremely overwhelming. Your attorney will prepare you for the deposition.