Your Lawyer Will Stand By You Through the Discovery Process
Once your case is filed, we will serve the complaint on defendants. After the defendants are served and they provide a written answer to the complaint in court, the discovery process begins. Discovery is perhaps the most important part of the case, because this is where all of the evidence of the case is revealed to attorneys on both sides prior to trial.
In TV and movies, important facts are discovered during the trial, and there are big surprises. But in reality, nearly all these facts are discussed before the trial, during the discovery process, and surprises should not happen (if attorneys are doing their jobs correctly).
During the discovery process, you will have a few important roles. But do not worry. Your attorney will prepare you to make sure you know what to expect, and the attorney will walk you through each step. The four main types of discovery are interrogatories, depositions, requests for document production, and admissions.
Interrogatories are written questions given to you by the opposition. The interrogatories will ask who you are, what happened, and the effects of what happened to you or your loved one were. These are usually written questions, and you will work with your attorney to respond in writing.
Your answers are given under oath, which means you swear or affirm that the answers are truthful. This makes your answers officially sworn testimony that is admissible in court. Your attorney will send similar questions for the defendants on the other side to answer under oath.
Another type of discovery is deposition. A deposition is similar to interrogatories, except that instead of you answering written questions, you are asked questions in person by attorneys from the opposition, with a court reporter recording your answers. It is common to have both interrogatories and a deposition.
The deposition usually happens after the written interrogatories. Your attorneys will help prepare you so you know what to expect and how to best present your side of the case. Here again, your attorney will also be taking depositions of the defendants on the other side.
This discovery gives both sides needed information to decide the next steps, whether that is settlement or taking the case to trial. The duration of this entire process varies.
Request for Document Production
A request for document production is a discovery device used to garner access to pertinent case evidence, such as documents, electronic data, and physical items held by the other side in a lawsuit. The opposing legal team must respond to this request by either delivering the information or explaining in writing why the requested items cannot be produced.
Admissions are questions posed to the opposing party, which require only a yes or no answer. They are written requests that ask the other side to confirm whether certain facts related to the case are true.
Moreover, sufficient responses to a request for admission include “admit” or “deny.” Failure to answer means the request you have been called upon to answer will be considered affirmed by the court.
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Other Steps in the Personal Injury Process: Motions, Mediation, and Trial
Motions can be filed before or after discovery is complete, and mediation can be requested during the case. Unless a settlement is reached, a trial and verdict portend the end of the legal dispute.
A motion in a civil lawsuit asks the judge to make a specific decision in your case for a legal reason. Common motions that may be filed include the following:
- Motion to dismiss – This motion asks the court to dismiss your claims against the defendant, such as if the opposing side contends there is no legal basis for your claim.
- Motion for summary judgment – When the facts are undisputed, a party may file a motion for summary judgment asserting they should win the case based on the law.
- Motion to compel – If the other party is uncooperative and fails to deliver the requested information or documentation, your attorney may file a motion to force them to do so through a court-issued order.
- Motion to exclude experts – In injury cases, experts can help to prove or disprove a liable party’s negligence, the nature and extent of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. An attorney from either side may file a motion to exclude a particular expert, arguing that they are not qualified to offer an opinion in the case.
- Motion in limine – This is a pretrial request asking that certain evidence be found inadmissible and that it is not referred to or offered at trial because the mention of the evidence would be prejudicial and unrectified by an instruction to disregard.
- Motion for default judgment – If the liable party fails to answer the complaint by the legal time limit, your attorney may file a motion for a default judgment requesting the court to award you the compensation you asked for in the claim.
Mediation, Negotiation, or Arbitration
Mediation is a form of legal dispute resolution involving both parties, their legal counsel, and a neutral intermediary who acts as a referee. Both sides present their case during mediation and engage in settlement talks.
During negotiation, the two parties can agree without a mediator facilitating the process. In binding arbitration, both sides provide all facts in the case to a neutral party and accept whatever decision they make.
These processes tend to occur when one or both sides realize that they will likely lose more money in legal fees and damages than they would if they could avoid a trial.
Going to Trial
When your case goes to trial, as the claimant, your attorney is first to present your side to the court, and the opposing party’s legal counsel then defends them on their behalf. After each side presents their arguments, the court determines if the defendant is liable for your injuries and losses and, if so, any damages to which you are entitled.
A trial involving a civil claim typically consists of the following phases:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Witness testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instruction
- Jury deliberation and verdict
Contact Us Today for a Consultation
Our attorneys at Brown & Barron, LLC focus on representing the victims of nursing home abuse/neglect, birth injuries, and medical malpractice. We know first-hand how these facilities function and just how vulnerable patients and residents are to injuries.
If you believe you or a family member has suffered from medical malpractice or nursing home negligence, we invite you to contact our team as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options. Call today for a consultation or answers to your questions about what to expect during a lawsuit.
Contact Brown & Barron online today to schedule a free case review.