If you have suffered an injury in an accident due to another party’s wrongdoing, you may be eligible to recover compensation for losses such as medical expenses and lost wages. Yet navigating the legal process can be a challenging experience, particularly for those who have never been involved in a lawsuit. One of the most crucial yet often misunderstood aspects of a lawsuit is the discovery phase. Understanding the discovery phase and what happens afterward can help you feel more confident as your case progresses to trial.
What Happens in the Discovery Phase of a Lawsuit?
The discovery phase is the stage in a lawsuit where both parties gather and exchange information and evidence relevant to their respective cases. This process enables the two sides to build strong arguments, understand the other party’s claims, and, in some instances, reach a settlement without the need for a trial. The primary goal of discovery is to ensure a fair and just resolution of the dispute by preventing surprise evidence or arguments during trial.
The discovery phase is critical in personal injury cases because it allows both the plaintiff and the defendant to gather evidence about the accident, the injuries the plaintiff has suffered, and the financial consequences of those injuries.
The methods of discovery that parties employ to obtain necessary information include the following:
- Interrogatories – These are written questions one party sends to the other. The recipient must answer these questions under oath. Interrogatories let both parties clarify details about the accident’s facts and the injuries’ extent.
- Requests for production of documents – This is a formal request to obtain relevant documents, such as medical records, photographs, and repair estimates. These documents can support a party’s case or undermine the other party’s position.
- Depositions – A deposition involves an in-person interview where one party, under oath, answers questions the opposing party’s attorney poses. A court reporter transcribes the testimony, which the attorneys can later use as evidence in trial.
- Requests for admission – This method involves asking the other party to admit or deny specific facts or the authenticity of documents, thereby simplifying the issues to address at trial.
Having a personal injury attorney by your side during each step of the discovery phase is essential, as they can help ensure that the correct procedures are followed and prevent you from inadvertently undermining your case.
How Long Is the Discovery Phase in a Lawsuit?
The length of the discovery phase varies depending on the case’s complexity, the amount of evidence to be collected, and the level of cooperation between the parties. In personal injury cases, the discovery process can last anywhere from a few months to over a year. Both parties must follow specific deadlines to complete the various discovery tasks. It is essential to be diligent and thorough during this process. Your personal injury attorney can estimate the duration of your lawsuit’s discovery phase.
What Happens After the Discovery Phase in a Lawsuit?
Once the discovery phase is complete, the parties better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases. With this information, they can engage in settlement negotiations to resolve the dispute without going to trial. Many personal injury cases settle at this stage to avoid trial costs, uncertainty, and emotional toll.
If unsettled, the case goes to trial, with attorneys presenting evidence to a judge or jury. After hearing the case, the judge or jury will render a verdict, determining whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and, if so, the amount of damages the injured party will receive.
Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Today
Navigating the complexities of the discovery phase in a lawsuit and the entire legal process can be overwhelming. Hiring an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney is essential to protect your rights and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.
If you have suffered an injury due to the actions of another party, the skilled and knowledgeable Chicago personal injury attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC are here to help. We have dedicated our lives to protecting the rights and interests of injured people in the Chicagoland area since 1970, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you. Call our legal team today at 312-346-8620 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.