Here are the steps involved when we actually step into a court room to fight for your compensation.
After you have fulfilled the first step of a car accident case and contacted an attorney to represent you, we will then begin the process of building your claim. When a lawsuit is filed in your car accident case, there are really two main goals: 1) bringing the matter to the court's attention and, 2) making sure the defendants are fully aware that you are willing to take the case to trial.
The majority of the power, or authority, associated with a lawsuit generally comes from the former. The court is incredibly powerful, and it goes without saying that many people have automatic respect for their authority. This is because the court can make people do basically anything. Consequently, we often rely on the court's authority to compel the defendant to do things which are reasonable and necessary, in order to learn more about the facts of the case and parties involved.
However there are certain rules guiding the process, which we call the rules of civil procedure. There are many rules of civil procedure, and frankly, they are incredibly technical. As a result, only an attorney who has spent years studying these requirements will truly understand how they work. Furthermore, if you don't know all of the applicable rules and fully understand how to properly adhere to and utilize them, you will lose your case. For our purposes of clarification, the rules of civil procedure are essentially the playbook which we use to successfully file a claim and properly perform discovery. In this article, we'll cover that process of discovery and its intricacies.
Simply put, when you file a lawsuit (or your lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf), you need evidence. You need enough information to have a full understanding about what occurred during the accident and you need to effectively prove these facts in trial. But we also know that we can't base our entire claim on what our client says happened, just like the defendant cannot simply rebut our claims by their own personal statements. Both sides must produce evidence and establish facts on which to base their claims. It is during the time of discovery that we gather these facts and various forms of evidence to prove your case. There are five different methods of discovery which we can use during the discovery process:
- Request for Production
- Request for Admission
- Request for Disclosure
During this time of discovery, you basically ask the court to force the defendant to cooperate, answer your questions, and provide you any relevant information that you request and can prove is reasonable to ask for. But you can only do so by using the established rules. You can't simply ask the court to force the defendant to admit to something without using the specified language and designated tools. Bottom line: you can ask the court to act, but the request must be reasonable and you must comply with the rules.
Request for Production
A request for production is the term used in civil procedure when you, the plaintiff, want to ask for any tangible or physical documents which the defendant may have. This includes copies of emails, medical records, medical bills, or employment information. For example, if you were injured by an 18-wheeler truck, the employer of the truck driver would probably be responsible for your damages. By requesting the truck driver's employment information, we can prove that the employer is responsible for the driver's actions and, therefore, they too are vicariously liable for your injuries.
The issue is that we must prove every detail of your claim in order to achieve a successful outcome. We cannot simply prove that the driver was responsible for the accident and automatically have their employer also be responsible. We need to request documents which effectively prove that the driver was employed by the company and establish that they were acting within the scope of their employment. Then we can introduce the law which states employers are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees. However, without first properly asking for the necessary documents, we cannot prove in court the employer status and their inherent liability.
Request for Admissions
When we file a request for admission we are submitting a series of questions to the defendant with the intent of them admitting the information as being true. Much like an exam containing true or false statements, the defendant must either answer true or false. However, they can also choose a third option to answer neither true or false. In this instance, they must explain thoroughly why they are choosing this third option. It is important to know that you are have no limitation on how many requests for admissions the court allows you, but you must submit them correctly in order to be allowed any requests for admissions.
Furthermore, it is crucial to understand that you will not only be producing these requests, but you will also be receiving them from the defendant. The defendant has an equal amount of time of discovery and they will likely have their own list of request for admissions. If you do not precisely know the rules, you could unintentionally admit to something that is actually false.
In the rules of civil procedure, if you do not timely respond to the request for admissions, anything that is not answered will be deemed by the court as true. This means if you accidentally skip over a question or if you simply fail to submit your response in time, you could admit to something that is completely wrong and your case could be irreparably harmed.
Interrogatories are somewhat similar to requests for admissions. Both contain a series of questions which are submitted to the opposing party and must be answered truthfully. However, there are several major differences. First, interrogatories are not simply true or false questions. They might ask for clarification as to why the defendant was driving on the road or where they were coming from. Typically, interrogatory questions are used to clarify the basic information that was slightly confusing in the opposing party's statements.
The second major difference is that interrogatories are not unlimited. Texas restricts you to requesting only 25 interrogatories. But on occasion, depending on the complexity of your case and the amount of damages you are seeking, the court may grant you additional interrogatories. It is important that you speak with experienced attorneys about your claim so that it can be ensured that you're granted the proper amount of interrogatories. Every bit of information available is important, and you do not want to miss out on the opportunity to discover it simply because you are not familiar with the rules.
Request for Disclosure
Requests for disclosure also consist of a list of information, which the opposing party must provide in order to expedite the lawsuit process. This simply covers factual information, and many requests for disclosure contain the same demands. They ask for the legal names and contact information of all the parties involved. If you receive a request for disclosure from the defendant, they might ask you to provide the specific amount of damages which you are seeking and exactly how you came to that number. The defendant may also ask you to provide the legal theory or statute which you are basing your claim on.
While this information seems basic, if you respond with the incorrect legal basis or outdated case law, your entire claim could be destroyed. Additionally, if you, or your inexperienced attorney, make this crucial mistake, the defendant will be more likely to refuse a settlement and will be more inclined to force the case to trial because they believe your legal representation is not a threat.
Depositions are essentially out-of-court statements which can be used as in court testimony. Even though you are not in court, you are still under oath to tell the truth. Everything you say is recorded and written down so that your statements may be used in trial. Typically, depositions are solely regulated by the attorneys and only on occasion will a judge be present. However, the law still applies and if you are not sufficiently represented, the opposing party's counsel could easily take advantage of your lack of experience.
For instance, even though depositions do not take place in court, your attorney can still object to certain questions and the opposing lawyers must adhere to court procedure. Just because the defendant's attorney asks you a question, it does not mean that you automatically have to answer it if it is abusive or unfair.
You need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can be there with you in the deposition to advise you on every question asked by the opposing party and make sure that you are being treated fairly.
Speak with a litigator today.
Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have been helping car accident victims like you for over two and a half decades. We are thoroughly experienced in handling the discovery process of a personal injury claim, and we know exactly how to best obtain all the information necessary for a successful claim. We also know how to enforce your rights and ensure that the opposing counsel does not try to bully you into providing harmful information. We have repeatedly held negligent defendants accountable for their actions and built strong and successful cases through our hard work in discovery. To learn more about the various ways in which we will gather information to prove your claim, call Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000 .
Related Articles For Further Reading:
- Special Considerations for Whiplash Victims
- What Makes an Insurance Company Want to Settle Your Case?
- Pedestrians Do Not Always Have the Right of Way