Getting Ready For Trial: Understanding Personal Injury Pretrial Activities

Posted on

When you are the victim of a careless driver, pursuing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is sometimes the only way to get the money damages that you deserve. This process can take longer than you might expect, but it may help to understand a bit about the process beforehand. It may also help to understand that every single step of the way brings you one step closer to a potential settlement offer, which could come at any time before the trial begins and even during the trial. Read on to learn about the important pretrial process called discovery.

Information sharing is key

You have probably seen television dramas where a surprise witness or last-minute evidence pops up at the last minute during the trial. Often, this changes the course of events in a dramatic manner, but in real life surprises like that are far from welcome. The attorneys and all involved parties prepare carefully for trial, and that preparation is based on a wealth of information about the case. There should be no surprises in a real trial since withholding evidence is considered grounds for a mistrial. The court system feels so strongly about the sharing of information between both the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the other driver) that a process has been put in place to ensure compliance by both sides. The discovery process usually involves three main steps.

1. Document production

This is a system where each side requests specific documents from the other side, and the production and sharing of those requested documents are key in providing a more even playing field for both parties. While this process exists in both civil and criminal cases, in a personal injury case, the defendants (who you are suing) may request copies of certain documents that you have in your possession. The definition of the term "document" is broad here; it may extend to computer files, photographs, video footage and more. With personal injury cases, you may expect medical records, accident reports, witness statements and more to pass back and forth among the parties during this process.

2. Interrogatories

You will likely be on the receiving end of an interrogatory during the pretrial period, but don't panic. Your attorney is well-versed in this process and will handle the matter expertly. In most cases, the other side is requesting that you answer a number of questions about the wreck and the aftereffects of it.

3. Deposition

This is likely the most important part of any discovery phase, and your participation will be required. You could consider this meeting to be a "trial run" for the real trial since it involves you and other parties giving testimony under oath. Additionally, you will be doing so with the realization that everything you say during this questioning can be used in court. Your legal team understands how important the deposition is to your case, and will prepare you to answer questions properly.

Contact an injury lawyer for more information and assistance.