What Is Discovery and How Can It Help My Northern Virginia Personal Injury Case?

By Peter DePaolis

Winning a personal injury lawsuit requires strong evidence. And while injury victims often supply this evidence themselves, there are other individuals who have information that can help you. Sometimes these individuals are defendants and others involved with the lawsuit, but they may be parties outside of the case. To obtain this evidence, your Northern Virginia personal injury attorney will use a process called discovery.

Understanding the Discovery Process

Discovery can be described as the fact-finding part of a lawsuit. One important role your attorney will play is to investigate the critical facts surrounding your injury. Using an automobile accident as an example, that information may include such matters as:

  • Facts about the at-fault driver, such as his or her driving record, his or her insurance carrier, and whether (and by whom) the driver was employed at the time of the wreck
  • Evidence about the crash itself, which could include a multitude of things like the accident report, surveillance video of the collision, and the identities of any witnesses and what they know
  • Any defects in the automobile that may have caused the crash or aggravated the injuries, like a “sticky” gas pedal or defective airbag

These are just a few examples of what your Northern Virginia personal injury attorney will want to know about the accident. Conversely, the defendant will want to obtain evidence that can be used in its defense. Discovery works both ways, so any party involved the case can use it.

There are a number of different methods that attorneys use during this phase to find out what they need to know. Here is an overview of a few of them:

  • Interrogatories. These are written questions sent from one party to another which are intended to obtain relevant facts about the accident. The number of interrogatories is limited, so you want to be strategic with how they are used. The receiving party has a limited time to answer interrogatories, and they must be answered completely and truthfully. It’s possible to object to an interrogatory in some cases.
  • Requests for Admission. In any personal injury case, there are a number of facts which are not contested by either party. If a fact is not in dispute, it would be a waste of time and money proving them in court. Requests for admission are used to essentially get these facts out of the way so energy can be better spent on more contentious matters. A party can admit or deny each request it receives. A statement that is admitted can be easily introduced in court without the need to call witnesses.
  • Requests for Production of Documents. Medical records, pay stubs, and many other documents are essential to any personal injury case. Plaintiffs especially rely on these documents to demonstrate the extent of their damages and the defendant’s liability. The request for production of documents is used to ask a party to turn over relevant records in their possession.
  • Depositions. Depositions are question-and-answer sessions in which parties, witnesses, and others are asked about issues related to the personal injury. Answers are given under oath, so depositions are considered sworn testimony. They are often used to learn what individuals know, to prevent unexpected surprises at trial.

Contact Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP Today

If you have a personal injury case, you need an attorney who thoroughly understands discovery. You need Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. We know how to use discovery to obtain critical evidence and how to properly respond to discovery requests that you might receive. Give us a call today to learn more.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.