Knowing all the facts of case is crucial when deciding whether to settle or go to trial says Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne.
There are many phases to a personal injury case and one of the most important is called discovery. It’s the process by which each side gets the facts and opinions held by the other. Depending on the case what’s learned during discovery may not alter how Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne thinks a case might proceed but in some cases it may drastically change its direction.
“After we consult with a client and there’s a representation agreement we will do a full investigation into the accident or incident at issue. We work very hard at this and over the years we’ve gotten very good at it but there may be facts known by the defendant that we simply can’t find out,” says car accident injury lawyer Osborne. We normally present at least some of the facts we’ve found to the defendant’s insurance company and attempt a settlement through a demand letter.
If the case doesn’t settle and we feel there are good factual and legal bases to file a lawsuit we will do so. The insurance company often tries to have the complaint, or at least part of it, dismissed. It rarely happens but if it does we can often amend, or change, the complaint or the part in dispute so those claims proceed.
After that the parties normally engage is discovery. This can include:
- Interrogatories which pose written questions to both sides,
- Requests for production, request copies of relevant documents, data or that physical evidence be turned over to be examined,
- Requests for admissions require a party to admit or deny a statement of fact, which can force a party to take a certain position, admit something damaging or narrow the issues of the case.
- Depositions are when parties and witnesses (including expert witnesses) are asked questions by the attorneys for both sides and a record is kept of the proceedings.
Each party can object to a discovery request claiming there are valid legal reasons not to respond. If the lawyers can’t work their way around the objections the judge in the case can issue a ruling as to what discovery requests are valid and which are not.
Discovery is important for a number of reasons, not just because information is passed back and forth:
- Each side gets the facts from each other so both sides have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the claims and defenses.
- During depositions both sides get an idea of how good a person may be as a witness during a trial, which is important. Is the person evasive, nervous or not handling the pressure well? Is the person credible, relaxed and able to tell his or her story in a way a jury would believe? How “good” a witness is can have a major impact on a trial.
During discovery very damaging or very helpful evidence can come out for either party, which is one reason why discovery takes place. Not all the important information and evidence is out in the open for everyone to see, adds injury attorney Osborne.
After discovery the parties and attorneys should have a good grasp of how likely the lawsuit is to succeed or fail and what damages would be appropriate for the case. Cases often settle during or after discovery because each side gets a good idea of what cards they and the other side are holding. Both parties can either continue to raise the stakes and proceed to trial or they can negotiate a reasonable settlement that both of them can live with, fold, and get on with their lives.
If you or a family member have been injured in a vehicle accident in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach Counties and have any questions about accident law, contact Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. We can talk about the situation, how the law could apply in your case and the best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.