Once a lawsuit is underway, both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys begin gathering the information which they consider to be essential to their case in a process known as discovery. Discovery is the key fact-finding process during litigation. Throughout discovery, both sides gather and share relevant information with one another in order to allow both sides to develop their cases so that the trial can run smoothly.
Some lawyers don’t consider discovery to be a vital aspect of the litigation process; however, a good personal injury lawyer sees discovery as an opportunity to change the defendant’s perception of their risk in trial, and of the value of the case itself.
The key to successful discovery is having a plan. Not only does a lawyer have to develop his own arguments, but he has to anticipate the counterarguments which the defense will make, and prepare accordingly. An effective plan is created in steps, and here are some of the basic steps which we utilize at the discovery stage.
First, it is important to write out a discovery plan plan. The key is to list the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Even the best cases have a potential pitfalls. It’s also important to recognize what evidence will support the key arguments and what evidence will support the defense.
Next, we analyze how the case will be presented at trial. Effort has to be made on developing the case in the discovery process to best prove the case at trial. How do we do that? We make sure to take effective depositions and to utilize effective written discovery such as interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for production of documents. If the case calls for it we will do a site inspection to see get a view of the accident scene. An effective deposition is a simple deposition.
It’s unnecessary to cloud a deposition with use of medical or legal terms particularly if it’s a deposition of a non expert. An ideal deposition of a defendant, for instance, will be one which identifies that the defendant had a duty to the injured person, breached that duty, and that this breach caused damages. If the defendant admits this in any way, no matter how commonly put it is, then there has been a successful deposition.
While there is no singular method which can always be followed in order to win a case, by following these several steps, we utilize the discovery process as a way to enhance our clients cases. This enables us to increase the likelihood of a good settlement, and as well to properly prepare for trial.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.