The Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case
Accidents resulting in injuries can happen to anyone. You can set out on a Saturday morning to go to the mall, and another driver runs into you. You end up with neck and back injuries that are painful and require ongoing and expensive medical attention. The other driver has insurance, but when you attempt to make a claim, you feel like you’re the guilty party rather than the victim.
The claims adjuster assigned to you puts you through a grilling to try to pin as much of the fault on you as they can, and/or they ask for permission to view your medical records to determine if a pre-existing condition is what’s causing your injuries. You seek out an experienced personal injury attorney, who reviews what’s happening and recommends filing a personal injury lawsuit.
You agree, and the lawsuit is filed. Then begins what is known as the “discovery process.”
In discovery, you will have to produce documents relating to your claim, probably have to answer a set of questions known as “interrogatories,” and perhaps even submit to a deposition under oath. You can and should request the same of the other party.
Discovery is the legal concept that allows both sides in a lawsuit to know—as best as possible anyway—what the other side knows, so that neither party (plaintiff or defendant) goes to court unprepared or “out of the loop.”
Of course, the vast majority of civil lawsuits settle before going to trial, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a robust discovery period when both sides demand to know the details of the case. You should be prepared for the process, and your attorney will no doubt advise you on how to respond and give you guidelines on your responsibilities and rights.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, or even due to their intentional act, in or around Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, contact the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. Our legal team will review what happened and advise you of the proper legal steps going forward. If a personal injury lawsuit is warranted, we will file that for you and counsel you on how to navigate the discovery process.
In addition to Knoxville and Farragut, we also proudly serve clients in and around Anderson, Blount, Union, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Loudon, and Clinton.
Personal Injury Lawsuits in Tennessee
Personal injury lawsuits are covered under Tennessee code, which covers “injuries to the person.” The code sets a one-year deadline for filing a lawsuit resulting from an injury caused by another person or entity’s negligence or intentional act.
It doesn’t have to be a car accident, though those are certainly frequent. It could also be a slip-and-fall incident in a retail establishment. It could also be injuries resulting from defective products. Assault and battery, while also a criminal act, can likewise lead to a personal injury lawsuit against the assailant.
Types of Discovery
Discovery is the process by which each party to a lawsuit can learn what the other party knows or has in the way of evidence or testimony. Discovery can take different forms, including:
INTERROGATORIES: This is a fancy term for a set of questions being asked of you as the plaintiff. Say you sue the at-fault driver and/or that person’s insurance carrier. They may respond with a set of questions that you are asked to answer. These questions can be generalized, known as judicial council forms, or tailored specifically to the events in question. A specific question might be: “What happened at the accident scene on May 30, 2023?” Or, “Is it your position that the other driver was busy eating a sandwich and not paying attention to driving conditions?”
REQUESTS FOR ADMISSION: Similar to interrogatories but submitted separately, you may be asked to admit or deny something. The other side may ask, “Is it true you were speeding when the accident occurred on May 30, 2023?” Your answer would be to confirm or deny the statement.
REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION: Sticking with the car accident example, the party being sued will no doubt ask you and your legal team to produce all relevant documents. This can include medical records, receipts, and emails concerning the accident, along with any other digital information pertaining to the case.
DEPOSITIONS: The other party may also ask you, and any witnesses you may have, to come in for a deposition under oath. This does not occur in the courtroom, but usually in a conference room, perhaps at the opposing attorney’s office. You will be sworn in to tell the truth, and a court reporter will be present to document everything that occurs.
It’s important to note here that discovery is a double-edged sword, so to speak. While you as the plaintiff may be required to answer questions, submit documents, or even be deposed, your legal team will be doing the same to the other party. Discovery is designed to level the playing field.
Privileged Information vs. Relevancy
Discovery must be focused on matters relevant to the lawsuit. In addition, certain information is privileged and cannot be asked for or used in a trial. What you say in private to your attorney is privileged, as is anything you say to your wife or your religious leader such as a priest. Conversations with your medical professional are also privileged, though your medical records can be requested if relevant.
Work With an Experienced Attorney
If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence or deliberate actions, you need to reach out for legal advice immediately. Insurance companies are notorious for lowballing or even denying valid claims. Let us handle the insurance negotiations, and then if necessary, we can launch a personal injury lawsuit to reach a fair and just settlement.
If you are in or around Knoxville or Farragut, contact the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed to handle every aspect of your personal injury claim and/or lawsuit.