The Discovery Phase In Houston Personal Injury Lawsuits
After suffering an accident caused by another person’s negligence, and before initiating a personal injury lawsuit, an injured person seeking compensation and other relief for injuries sustained from the accident may wonder how they get all the information they need to prove their case in court. While it is up to the person filing a personal injury lawsuit to provide relevant information to their lawyer and in their complaint, and their lawyer typically conducts their own investigation before initiating a lawsuit, the other side may have information helpful to the case that needs to be obtained. Fortunately, there is a mechanism under the law for obtaining relevant information to the case from the other party. This mechanism is called the “discovery” process, or just “discovery”, and it typically consists of interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admissions, and depositions.
Interrogatories in a Houston Personal Injury Lawsuits
Sometimes helpful information may consist of statements from the other side. Interrogatories are the discovery mechanism that allows a party to submit written questions to the other party to the suit that must be answered. Interrogatories are typically questions written out in a legal document and served on the other party. The party serving interrogatories must follow specific laws and rules and must properly serve, or deliver, the interrogatories to the responding party. The responding party must respond to the interrogatories within the timeframe established by discovery laws and rules. The responding party also has the right to serve interrogatories on the other party. In other words, the system allows both parties to obtain information that is relevant to the case.
Requests for Production in a Houston Personal Injury Lawsuit
Requests for production are a discovery tool that enables the requesting party to obtain relevant documents from the responding party. In a personal injury car accident lawsuit, for example, the requesting party might ask, among other things, for all of the documents that formed the basis for answers to the interrogatories, documents regarding the responding party’s liability insurance, vehicle maintenance records, cell phone records, and expert reports. Like Interrogatories, the responding party can also make requests, and like Interrogatories, discovery rules govern the manner, timing, and other requirements of requests for production.
Requests for Admission in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Requests for admission ask the responding party to admit to written statements about the case. For example, in a car accident personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff will want to confirm which insurance company is involved and might also ask the responding party to admit to any other third-party involvement for the purposes of liability and injuries. Requests for admission, like requests for production and interrogatories are governed by discovery rules.
Depositions in a Houston Personal Injury Lawsuits
Depositions are probably the most well-known and familiar of the discovery mechanisms. Often in legal shows and movies, lawyers ask questions to a person (deponent) while a court reporter records the answers. This scenario often is played out in a conference room in a law firm, where both parties to the lawsuit and their lawyers, along with the court reporter are present. In real life, the process is similar, although typically less dramatic and exciting. Depositions are an examination of a witness under oath. Therefore, even though depositions are typically conducted outside of court, the court reporter will still swear in the witness and they must provide their testimony under penalty of perjury. A deposition notice is served on a witness to a personal injury lawsuit, and the witness responds by showing up to the deposition date. However, if a witness does not show up, they may be subpoenaed for a deposition.
Help with Discovery in Houston Personal Injury Lawsuits
Discovery is a very important part of Houston personal injury lawsuits, and parties to a lawsuit must follow the discovery rules, or may be compelled to follow them by the court. If you have questions about discovery in your Houston personal injury lawsuit, or you would like to speak to a lawyer about your case, contact the experienced Houston personal injury lawyers at the Gilde Law Firm to share your story and see if they can help.