What is Discovery?
Discovery refers to a period and procedure during a lawsuit where each party obtains and turns over evidence, testimony, and other information relating to a case. A court will hear and resolve disputes relating to discovery during cases by enforcing the discovery laws of the appropriate jurisdiction. If you have questions about discovery related to your case, then you should speak to an experienced attorney to get help.
How Does Discovery Work in Texas?
In Texas, the discovery process is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. This phase begins soon after a claim is filed to allow both sides to obtain all of the necessary evidence in a case. Once a petition, answer, and counterclaims have been filed, a case will then begin its discovery period.
It is common for the discovery period in a case to take several months, and sometimes longer than a year, to complete. It is important to seek and obtain all the potential information available in a case. A failure to obtain all of the relevant evidence can be fatal to your case.
The Main Types of Discovery
There are four main types of discovery in Texas personal injury cases, they are:
- Interrogatories: These are written questions that one party submits to the other party to answer. These questions will generally center on basic information relating to the case.
- Requests for Production: These are written requests for a party to produce some type of printed document or tangible thing, which can be a medical record, police report, or business record among other types of documents.
- Requests for Admission: These are written requests for a party to admit that certain things occurred related to the issues in the case. This is typically done to clarify what issues are in dispute in a case.
- Requests for Disclosure: These are written requests for a party to disclose certain information relating to a claim. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure outlines what information must be disclosed when requested, including things like party names, basic claims, and how damages are calculated.
A court can force a party to comply with an opposing party’s discovery demands if they violate discovery rules or withhold discovery. Discovery can also refer to information sought from people who are not parties to a case, such as through depositions or subpoenas. A deposition is a recorded statement from a witness who is being questioned under oath. A subpoena is a court order given to a witness to produce documents or appear in a case.
How Discovery is Important in a Personal Injury Case
Discovery is important because it is meant to allow parties access to the relevant and important information relating to a claim. The discovery process allows both sides to hear and see the evidence in a case that might ultimately be presented to a jury. This will allow both sides to see the strengths and weaknesses in their case and can potentially lead to a settlement.
Courts are interested in efficiency and will always encourage parties to a personal injury case to settle, if possible. If a settlement agreement is made, then there won’t be a trial, and the case is resolved. A settlement typically means guaranteed money in a plaintiff’s pocket to help with the expenses incurred because of an accident.
Examples of Discovery
Discovery can come in many forms.
Some of the most common examples of discovery in a personal injury case are:
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Property damage expense reports
- Phone records
- Video evidence
Almost any information or evidence that is relevant to a case can be obtained during the discovery phase of a case.
Texas State Civil Procedure Limits on Discovery
The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure limit discovery to relevant information that is related to the case. The rules do not allow parties to seek information that is irrelevant or considered privileged. Privileged information includes things such as attorney-client discussions, discussions with a doctor, or other types of legally protected interactions.
If a party does not respond to discovery requests, the requesting party can file a motion to compel and ask the court to force the party’s response. If you have specific questions about the discovery process relating to your own case, then contact us at Stephens Law so we can help.
Get Your Discovery Questions Answered in a Free Consultation Today
If you have been hurt in an accident, then you probably have a lot of questions about what happens next. If you have questions about the discovery process and how it can help you win your personal injury case, then contact our law office in Fort Worth for a free consultation by calling us at (817) 420-7000. Our lawyers at Stephens Law Firm will answer all the questions you have.