What Happens in the Discovery Phase of a Car Accident Lawsuit?

After you have filed an auto accident lawsuit,
your case will enter the pre-trial phase, which is dominated by the “discovery” process.

Pretrial discovery involves both sides of the case exchanging
information using procedures specifically designed for that purpose.

Below are some of the elements involved in the discovery phase of
a car accident lawsuit:

Interrogatories

Typically, the first step of the discovery process is the
interrogatory phase, in which both sides send written questions to the other
party to answer under oath. You have the option to serve interrogatories to the
defendant along with the initial process, which means defendants must answer
questions before you even have to answer theirs.

Although this will not change your own answers, it does provide
you with some advantage in knowing what the defendant is arguing before you
must answer questions on your end.

Document production

Each party may request certain documents, such as medical
records, treatment bills, proof of insurance, proof of income, receipts for car
repairs and anything else that might be related to the crash.

Depositions

Both parties may be asked to submit to a deposition, which is a
face-to-face question and answer session in which the attorney who scheduled
the deposition asks the questions to the other party, who is under oath. In
addition to all parties to the accident being deposed, it is possible the
process will include witnesses or medical experts.

Independent medical examinations

The defense will typically request an independent medical exam if
there are any medical questions that could be at issue in your case, including
the extent and nature of your injuries and if those injuries indeed resulted
from the accident in question. Your attorney will keep in mind that the medical
expert was paid and hired by the defense, so if the information contradicts
that offered by your own healthcare provider, you may need to devise a strategy
for how to proceed.

In general, whenever a request is made of you during the
discovery phase, you should be as prompt and compliant as possible. Lateness or
lack of compliance will reflect poorly on you and make it less likely that you will
receive a favorable settlement. If both sides are compliant and willing to
engage in reasonable discussions and negotiations, the discovery process can be
relatively painless and allow you to reach a settlement efficiently.

To learn more about your legal options after a serious crash,
speak with an experienced New York auto accident lawyer at
Robinson & Yablon, P.C.