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What Is the Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case? 

Personal Injury Case

Discovery is one of the most important phases of litigation in a personal injury case. During the discovery process, the parties in the lawsuit exchange and gather crucial information about the facts of the case. Discovery offers each side the opportunity to learn more about their adversary’s position — and for a plaintiff, the process can be vital to obtain the evidence that will prove liability. While this is often the longest phase of litigation, the information derived during the process can be used to form a trial strategy and negotiate a settlement.   

Demand for a Bill of Particulars

After the Complaint has been filed and served in a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant will typically respond by sending the plaintiff an Answer to Complaint and a Demand for a Bill of Particulars. Although it isn’t technically considered a “discovery” tool, this document is a lengthy series of questions that is used by the defense to gain information about the case, the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the damages suffered. 

Discovery Demands in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

A broad scope of discovery tools is available to parties in a personal injury action. While the plaintiff will request evidence that will allow them to build a strong case, the defendant will seek information to discredit their injury claim. Discovery can also help to ensure that information is disclosed and that neither party is surprised at trial.   

In a personal injury lawsuit, the following types of discovery demands may be used:

  • Interrogatories — Interrogatories are written questions that one party can send to another in a personal injury case. The purpose of interrogatories is for a party to gain information that can be used to support their position. Although they are responded to outside of court, the questions must be answered under oath. 
  • Depositions — During a deposition, the opposing party will ask the other a series of questions to gain more information about the case. They are conducted outside of court without a judge or jury present. However, the statements made during a deposition are sworn testimony and may be admissible at trial under specific circumstances. 
  • Requests for production — Requests for production are requests for documents that are relevant to the case. This can include anything from medical records to insurance policies, police reports, property maintenance records, and more.  
  • Requests for admission — Requests for admission ask the opposing party to admit or deny certain facts regarding the case. They can be useful to demonstrate that some facts are not in dispute or to try to get a party to admit specific facts.
  • Subpoenas — Subpoenas are a discovery tool that can be used to obtain information from non-parties in the case. They can request a non-party’s appearance for a deposition or command them to produce documents in their possession. 

In addition, a defendant will typically ask the plaintiff to attend an independent medical exam (IME) during the discovery phase. However, these exams should not be misconstrued as being “independent” — plaintiffs should be aware that they are not like the medical exams that are given by their treating doctors. An IME is conducted by a doctor hired by the defendant’s insurance company specifically to help them fight against an injury or causation claim.   

What Discovery Can Be Obtained?

It’s essential to understand that discovery is not meant to be a “fishing expedition.” Typically, only information that is relevant to the case can be sought. The types of discovery relevant to a personal injury case will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the specific case. For instance, evidence such as photos of the accident scene and video footage of the accident occurring may be useful to help establish liability. Other evidence gathered during the discovery process in a personal injury case can include medical documents, medical bills, photos of the injuries, documentation of lost income, and accident reports.  

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another, it’s important to have skillful legal counsel who can protect your rights. A personal injury attorney can fight to ensure you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience representing accident victims and works to obtain the best possible outcome in every client’s unique case. 

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.