What is “Discovery” in Texas Personal Injury Cases?
If you have ever been involved in a personal injury lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer may tell you that you are in a “discovery phase” or that you have to “respond to discovery.” Lawyers handle discovery every day and have a firm grasp on what it is and why it can be important. Unfortunately, some car wreck lawyers fail to fully explain what “discovery” is used for and why it is important.
What Is Discovery and Why Is It Used?
Discovery is the process that parties to a lawsuit use to learn facts, claims and contentions in a lawsuit. There are four main types of discovery in a Texas personal injury lawsuit:
Interrogatories: These are questions that one party sends to another party. Think of it as a written method of “interrogation.” Most of these types of questions center around basic facts. For instance, in a car wreck case will center around what you claim happened to cause the wreck and what injuries you sustained in the wreck.
Requests for Production: These are requests for certain types of documents to be produced. This could include things like photographs, medical records, police reports, and lost wage documentation. In essence, these are requests for any type of evidence that may be in print.
Requests for Admission: These are requests that a party admit certain, specific facts. The goal of these requests are for the parties to admit things to reduce the number of issues in dispute. For instance, if a party admits to causing a car wreck that caused injury, a request for admission simply avoids the time and expense necessary to prove that issue.
Requests for Disclosure: The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 194.2) lists out certain basic information that all parties must disclose relating to the claim. This would include the names of any parties, any potential responsible third parties, the basic claims and contentions, and the basic amount and method of calculating damages alleged in a case.
Other Types of Discovery
There are several other types of discovery that can be helpful to a case. For instance, a party can take depositions of witnesses. Depositions are recorded and transcribed statements from witnesses given under oath. In Texas personal injury cases, depositions may be used at trial instead of having to actually call witnesses.
A party may also issue subpoenas to witnesses or third parties to provide documents or information relevant to a particular claim.
Discovery is an important part of the litigation process. If used properly by Texas car wreck lawyers and personal injury attorneys, many cases will be strengthened by the discovery process.