The majority of personal injury cases in New York settle after negotiations with the insurance company, without needing to go to trial. Before a case gets to trial, , both parties will undergo the discovery phase of the process. The discovery phase allows both sides to gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the personal injury, through a series of questions, answers, and fact gathering. Your attorney can help you prepare for all steps of the discovery phase as the plaintiff of a claim in NYC.
Interrogatories may sound intimidating, but they are simply written questions each party sends the other party during discovery. Your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will write up questions relevant to the lawsuit, for the purpose of gathering more information. Each side will then provide written answers under oath. If you have to answer questions from the opposite party, the answers you give must be truthful and as accurate as possible.
The questions asked in interrogatories will vary from case to case, but a few common examples include questions about how the injury occurred, the severity of your injuries, your medical history, your past involvement with personal injury lawsuits or workers’ compensation claims, and the medical treatments you received for your injuries. Your lawyer will help you craft your written responses to interrogatories. Meanwhile, the opposite party may be answering questions your attorney sent, such as how the defendant treated your medical condition or responded to your injuries.
A request for an admission is a process meant to ensure both sides are using the same basic set of facts to go about the claim. One or both sides may submit requests for admissions, asking for the opposing party to respond. A request for admission is a series of factual statements the other party must either admit or deny. If you cannot admit a fact as true or deny it, you must give a statement as to why you cannot answer.
Statements of admission can be important during a personal injury claim. A lawyer can help you review any statements you receive before you issue your responses. That way, you will not admit to more than you meant to in your answer. Your lawyer may also have some requests for admissions to send to the opposing party. You will have 30 days from receiving a request for admission to submit your answer. If you fail to respond, the judge will treat it as an admission.
The third step during discovery is the request for production. This is a written request asking the opposing side to deliver any documents related to the claim, for the purpose of inspection. In a personal injury claim, common documents requested include medical records, police reports, insurance policies, vehicle damage repair receipts, and photographs of the scene of the accident. During this phase, you will need to sign off your agreement to release your medical records to the other side. The opposing side must also produce any relevant documents or information.
The final phase of the discovery process is the depositions. Depositions may ask similar questions that could be asked through the interrogatories, except these questions are in person rather than in writing. Depositions are in-person question-and-answer sessions to help both sides gain more information. Like interrogatories, the answers you give during a deposition are under oath.
The opposing side may use what you say during a deposition against you in court, if your case goes to trial. It is important to hire an attorney to help you through this and the other steps involved in discovery. Otherwise, you may say or do something that could unknowingly hurt your odds of obtaining compensation. A lawyer can represent you through all phases of discovery.