Understanding What Happens in the Discovery Phase of a Car Accident Case
Check out the following educational legal video about understanding the discovery phase of a car accident case by Daniel J. Chiacchia, an experienced Hamburg injury attorney.
As we begin the process of signing up a lawsuit, many of our clients are curious about the process. To begin with, we seldom simply put a case in suit right away. Instead, we prefer to conduct our own investigation before any insurance company gets involved. We like to collect your medical records and make sure we know exactly what we’re dealing with. Only then do we put our case in suit. What happens after we put the case in suit? First, we serve what’s called a summons and complaint on the other side. They, in turn, hire lawyers – whether through the insurance company or otherwise – and put in what’s called an answer.
Their answer to our complaint may contain some defenses, such as why they think they’re not responsible, and we have to address those. There may be some counterclaims against us, and they may also have cross-claims against other people for causing this injury to occur. If multiple defendants are involved, that part of the process can get quite complicated. That’s the paper discovery phase. When they answer, they will serve us with requests, such as demands for discovery, demands for bills of particulars, and sometimes interrogatories. We have to respond to all of those. Then, we send them all of our requests – our discovery requests, our discovery bill of particulars request, interrogatories, and things of that nature. It’s a big paper exchange.
Sometimes there’s a lot of argument back and forth about what’s to be turned over and what’s not. Many times, we find ourselves in court – and that contributes to delays in litigation. When people don’t want to give us information we need, we have to go to court and make sure that the court orders the other side to turn over the required information. Beyond that, we have to take depositions. That’s where you give testimony – under oath – in a law firm’s office before a trial. As a plaintiff, you will definitely have to give testimony, and your spouse, as well as some of the witnesses to the accident may also be deposed. We also want to depose the defendants. We want to question the person who was driving the car, or the people who manufactured the product. We want to get all of the people who may be able to contribute information to the lawsuit on record to help prove our case.
Once the deposition process is done, either side – or both – may make motions to the court for what they call summary judgment. That basically says, “Judge, you should dismiss this case because of A, B, and C.” On the other hand, we might bring up a motion saying, “Judge, you should say that they’re totally at fault at this point because there’s no question that they were responsible for the accident.” If that motion is granted, the only thing the jury has to consider at the trial is the amount of damages. That could become important, too, because if we get a judge to rule that someone’s responsible ahead of time, the requisite 9% interest will start to run from the date of that ruling and, by the time we get to trial and a verdict is reached, we’ll have a pretty big interest add-on to whatever verdict we get.
Are you filing an injury claim and have questions about the discovery phase of a car accident case? Contact the experienced Hamburg injury attorneys at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP for a free consultation. We treat your case and your injuries seriously and do everything in our power to bring you relief. Let our experience work for you.
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