What Is Legal Discovery?

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If a personal injury case goes to trial in Nebraska, it will go through a process known as legal discovery. Discovery is a fact-finding phase, where both parties involved in a legal dispute have the chance to gather information and evidence from one another. Although certain aspects of legal discovery may seem daunting, such as attending a deposition, a personal injury lawyer in Omaha can guide you through this step of a lawsuit if it is necessary for your case.

what is legal discovery

About Legal Discovery

In general, you will only need to go through legal discovery if your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases achieve settlements, meaning the plaintiff and defendant reach an agreement on how to resolve a dispute without involving a judge or jury. Legal discovery is not necessary to achieve a settlement. 

If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair or reasonable settlement, however, or wrongfully rejects the claim, the personal injury case may need to go to court for a resolution. After you or your lawyer file the paperwork to initiate a personal injury lawsuit in Douglas County, you will wait for a response from the defendant. If the defendant does not accept liability, a court date will be set and you will enter into the legal discovery phase of your lawsuit.

What Does Legal Discovery Involve? 

The goal of legal discovery is to make both parties privy to the same information and evidence. This can prevent unwelcome surprises to either party during the trial, as well as eliminate redundancies to make the claims process more efficient. Legal discovery is a methodical process that involves three basic stages: 

  1. Written discovery. You may receive written questionnaires known as interrogatories that you must fill out to the best of your knowledge under penalty of perjury. Interrogatories ask for your version of the events related to a claim. The questions can be broad or specific. If you receive an interrogatory, you can work with an attorney for assistance answering the questions and replying by the deadline. 
  1. Production of evidence and documentation. Next, both parties can subpoena the other side of the case (request a court order) to require the production of records, documents, photographs, computer files and other evidence for inspection. Both parties have the right to see documents that relate to a case. This stage may also involve an independent medical exam required of the accident victim.
  1. Oral depositions. Finally, the discovery phase may involve depositions. These are oral statements given under oath that answer questions asked by the attorney representing the other side. Depositions are often taken in person. A court reporter is in attendance to create transcripts of the meeting. You may have an attorney present during an oral deposition to guide you on what to say and what not to say.

A personal injury lawyer can give you advice during legal discovery to protect you from making mistakes that could hurt your claim. For example, it is important not to guess or speculate when answering questions. Stick to the truth and the facts as you know them, keep your answers short and simple, and respond that you don’t know if you do not have the answer to a question. 

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Legal discovery can take a long time and feel intrusive. It may be the last thing you wish to do while also dealing with a serious injury from an accident in Omaha. However, it is an important step of your personal injury lawsuit that can strengthen your claim if done correctly. 

Hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you can make the discovery phase more manageable and less stressful for you and your family. A lawyer can prevent you from doing or saying something that could hurt your case. For more information about legal discovery, as well as assistance with every step of your personal injury case, contact an attorney in Omaha today.