Discovery (Personal Injury – Auto Accident – Litigation)

Everyone has heard of the Discovery Channel, they put on great informative shows with interesting topics. According to Webster’s dictionary ‘Discovery’ is anything revealed or disclosed. In the Business of Law and Litigation the Plaintiff and the Defendant are compelled to outline their case with facts and supporting documents, it’s a format that contains all of those elements that help to prove and move your case through the court, it’s called the Discovery Process. In Civil Litigation, as opposed to Criminal Law, it involves a lot of paperwork. When I graduated from Law School back in 1981 I thought to myself maybe I made a mistake getting into Law. I’m looking at all this paperwork, I didn’t choose to be a Librarian I wanted to get into the courtroom. Surprise!! This is how all the ‘big’ cases get started. They begin with written ‘Discovery’, first ‘Interrogatories’, then ‘Production of Documents’, throw in ‘Request for Admissions’ and then of course everyone has heard of ‘Depositions’. When I knew so little about Law I first thought, this is the most boring field, how can anyone deal with it? I feel much differently now. ‘Discovery’ can be exciting; it requires your attorney to understand all the arguments necessary to bring forth your case as well as all of those challenges to those arguments. To begin, your Attorney must sit down with you his client, and understand and absorb your entire case. It requires a lot of thought, a lot of knowledge of the file then add a lot of brains. What a challenge for me. This is the very reason that most Attorneys today stay away from litigation. A lot of work, a lot of brains and a lot of details and in the end if you do a lot of Trials a lot of expenses.

When a lawsuit is filed it must be served on the Defendant then Answered by the Defendant thus the process begins. Starting out with written ‘Interrogatories’. Interrogatories comprise of a detailed format of questions for which you give the Plaintiff (or Defendant) appropriate Answers. Objections incorporated into your Answers must be timely raised otherwise your clients responses can fly back and hit him in the face. The most popular objections are:  1.)‘Assumes Facts Not in Evidence’, 2.) ‘Hearsay’, where the information that the client is testifying to originates from some other source not your client and must be introduced by that person other than your client. Then we have 3.)‘Privilege’, this is a legally recognized relationship such as between husband and wife, doctor and patient, pastor and parishioner, and 4.)‘Invasion of Privacy’, 5.) ‘Relevance’, which means the question is off the subject and doesn’t lead to Discoverable Evidence.

Your Attorney can easily get caught up with goofy objections and a failure to adequately respond, otherwise your lawyer will be hit with ‘Meet and Confer’ letters followed by ‘Motions to Compel’ followed by ‘Sanctions’ which are imposed by the court. Lastly a ‘Dismissal’ and the case will end, not without some embarrassment to your lawyer and your Doctors will never get paid. When I first received a ‘Request for Admissions’ I was petrified. Admissions not answered within 30 days of the due date are deemed Admitted. Guess what, your case is over. It’s interesting to now look back over the years and see my own professional growth. Unfortunately most Attorneys are comfortable standing still being negotiators, always in a Settlement mode. Good for them, but bad for you the client. The bottom line your mother or grandmother could actually do a pretty good job and often better than your typical Lawyer. For the more serious cases you always want a Trial Lawyer to handle your case. That’s if you expect “results”. Check out the Attorney. What are the cases he has handled and the results of his ‘Jury Trials.’ A Trial Lawyer will always advertise his successes. “YOU CAN ONLY BE A WINNER BY CHOOSING A WINNER.”

Daniel L. Nelson ESQ. I (310) 641-8300