Why Discovery Is The Most Critical Part Of Your Personal Injury Case

On behalf of Dan Doyle Law Group posted in Personal Injuries on Saturday, August 11, 2018.
Personal injury claim

If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, that means your attempts to settle your case out of court have been futile. While there is still a chance that you and the defendant may settle out of court before the trial begins, filing a lawsuit means preparing for the discovery process, arguably the most critical part of every trial.

Regardless of the circumstances of your particular case, the final amount of necessary and relevant evidence you can collect matter just as much as how your Philadelphia personal injury attorney will present it to the judge and juries. Discovery is not just the most important stage in a personal injury lawsuit, but also the longest and the most complicated one.

What is ‘discovery’ in a personal injury case?

During the discovery process, you and the opposing party will investigate the case and gather all available evidence to establish liability and cause of injuries. Before the discovery stage, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania regarding what types of evidence are irrelevant and can be suppressed, what types of information can be subpoenaed, and which pieces of evidence can be considered “classified.”

Many readers of this blog often ask our lawyers from the Dan Doyle Law Group, “Will I have to reveal my prior medical history during the discovery process?” The answer is, “You might have to, but only if it is relevant to the case.” Typically, a plaintiff’s prior medical history is considered “privileged information” and cannot be used as evidence in a personal injury case unless the defendant can prove that it is relevant to the case at hand.

Why revealing your prior medical history can hurt your case

As you may or may not have heard from other personal injury lawsuits, revealing your medical history can be a risky endeavor, as it can hurt your chances of winning the case and recovering compensation. Since an insurance company or the defendant want to minimize the value of your claim or avoid paying compensation altogether, they might attempt to convince you to surrender all of your medical history voluntarily under the pretext of “not delaying the trial.”

But doing so might actually help the insurance company and/or the defendant to pay you as little as possible, as they might find certain medical conditions, illnesses, and injuries from your past to argue that you had a pre-existing condition prior to the accident.

Four stages of the discovery process

There are four stages of the discovery process in every personal injury case in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania:

  • Requests for admissions. During this stage, the plaintiff and defendant request each other to admit or deny specific questions about the accident, which can help establish liability. These questions are usually carefully worded, and only a Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you put together a full list of questions.
  • Requests for production. Both plaintiffs and defendants also have a right to request each other to produce certain pieces of evidence or other documents and information that can be relevant to the case. If you want to keep certain pieces of evidence that are irrelevant to the case out of trial, you can make a motion to suppress evidence.
  • Depositions. This stage can have a crucial impact on determining fault in your personal injury case, because it involves witnesses testifying in court or in the attorney’s office before the trial. Witnesses testify under oath in the presence of both the defendant and plaintiff, and/or their representatives.
  • Interrogatories. During this stage, parties are asked open-ended questions regarding the accident or injuries.

Get legal help to expedite the discovery process

Cases when the defendant and/or insurance company have used the discovery process simply to delay the case are not unheard of in Pennsylvania. Our lawyers explain that by delaying discovery, it may expand the trial by months or even years. A plaintiff who cannot pay for his/her medical bills out of pocket may not be able to afford a long trial, which is why defendants hope that by delaying the discovery process, they will get the injured victim to agree to the minimum settlement offer.

Do not accept low-ball personal injury settlements that do not reflect the real extent of your injuries and losses. Contact the Dan Doyle Law Group to learn your rights. You can get through the discovery phase quickly if you are represented by a lawyer. Schedule a free consultation by calling at 215.987.3730 or fill out this contact form.

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