Examinations for Discovery is an important part of every auto collision lawsuit. It is not a trial but rather a pre-trial process at which lawyers for each of the parties question the parties under oath about the matters involved in the lawsuit. The questions and answers are taken down by a reporter and later, if necessary, can be produced as a written transcript. It is hoped that this will promote settlement of differences and save expensive trial time.
What is the purpose of examinations for discovery?
The lawyer for each party will examine who is opposite in interest to that of his or her own client. The lawyer doing the examination will try to accomplish at least these basic things:
• To find out what the other party has to say about the matters which are in issue in the lawsuit;
• To see whether there are any areas of agreement among the parties to the lawsuit;
• To try to obtain admissions from another party which can later be used against that party at trial.
The lawyer who is doing the questioning has the right to ask a fairly broad range of questions dealing with the issues of the collision. The lawyer for the party who is being examined is present to ensure that all of the questions asked are proper ones and to object if he or she feels that any questions asked of that party are improper.
Where will the examinations for discovery be held?
Discoveries are held at offices specially set up for this purpose. They are called “Examiner’s Offices” and they are privately operated. The parties, the lawyers and a court reporter will be there. There isn’t a judge present or members of public as this is not a trial or even part of the trial.
As a general rule, parties have the right to be present when other parties are examined. Despite this, most parties do not exercise this right. Occasionally, even when a party does wish to sit in on the examination of another party, he or she will not be permitted to do so. This is something which varies from case to case.
What should be done to prepare for discovery?
Your lawyer will spend adequate time with you to help you prepare for your examination for discovery. If you are appearing as a witness on your own behalf, you should also review all documents or notes which you have which pertain to the case. You should not worry about forgetting something while you are at the discovery as this is not a test. If you are asked something that you have forgotten, or don’t know without looking up, you can, at the request of the examining lawyer, find out the answer later and advise of it by letter. Try to take as many breaks as you need. You are not expected sit in one position for hours answering questions. Your lawyer will be right beside you and will interject if he or she feels the need to.
What are the results of examinations for discovery?
Your lawyer must prepare your case as if it will be necessary to go all the way to trial. However, lawsuits are frequently settled after discoveries have been completed because by then, each party has had an opportunity to review the strengths and weaknesses of the case and that of the other party or parties. Those strengths and weaknesses are largely revealed by the discoveries.
Even if there is no settlement, the discovery serves a very useful purpose because it acquaints your lawyer with much of the evidence upon which the other side is going to rely at trial. It also gives your lawyer an opportunity to obtain admissions from the other party which can be used against that party at trial.
It is a valuable proceeding and well worth the effort involved.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace a lawyers’ advice. Please always consult a lawyer for your legal needs.