Discovery in an Auto Crash Case: What it Is and Why it Takes So Long

Man Standing in Front of a Wrecked CarIf you are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you hope that his insurance company will do the right thing and quickly settle your claim for what you deserve. However, they could try to delay, deny, or reduce your claim. In this situation, you may need to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to force them to be reasonable. One important part of your court case is its discovery phase.

What Happens in the Discovery Phase of Your Car Accident Court Case?

Discovery is the process of your attorney and the attorney for the negligent driver’s insurance company exchanging information about the case. It is an opportunity for your lawyer to find out information that can be helpful to your claim and learn more about the defenses that the insurance company is raising to deny it.

Your civil lawsuit begins by your attorney filing a complaint on your behalf with the court and serving a copy of it to the negligent driver, who would forward it to his insurance company. Their attorney would then file an answer to your complaint. The discovery phase of your case will most likely start after your attorney receives the answer.

There are many types of discovery used in car accident cases. When discovery is extensive, it can take the attorneys many months to complete. Common types of discovery that your lawyer could use include:

  • Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered under oath. They are often the first type of discovery used in personal injury cases and are utilized to obtain basic information about the parties to the lawsuit and the facts of the case.
  • Request to produce. Requests for the production of documents are used to obtain documents from the other party. In car accident cases, they may be utilized to obtain a copy of the insurance policy, expert witness reports, medical bills, lost wages documentation, and more.
  • Subpoena. In order to obtain documents from a third-party who is not involved in the lawsuit, attorneys must have a subpoena issued by the court ordering the business to produce the requested information. Examples of information that the insurance company’s or your attorney may subpoena include your medical and employment records, medical records for the negligent driver, and blood alcohol content test results.
  • Depositions. Depositions are a crucial part of discovery in car accident cases and may not be started until after the types listed above have been used. A deposition is a question and answer session by an attorney of a party or other person that is recorded by a court reporter. It is later transcribed into a written document that can be used in your trial and other court hearings. The negligent driver, expert witnesses, eyewitnesses, treating doctor, and others may all need to be deposed. This process can be lengthy if many depositions are needed.

Contact Us for the Legal Assistance That You Need

If you or a family member were injured in a car accident in Norfolk, our experienced car accident attorneys are here to file your claim and fight for the compensation that you deserve. We will aggressively litigate your case and take it to trial if this is in your best interest. Schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options. Call our office today to get started.