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What is the Discovery Process?

April 20, 2021 | Personal Injury

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, you will likely be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, securing this compensation can be challenging, particularly when dealing with aggressive insurance carriers and at-fault parties. If a personal injury lawsuit in civil court becomes necessary, everybody involved will go through the discovery process. Here, our Martinsburg injury attorneys want to discuss what this means so that you have a thorough understanding of what to expect after filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Will a Lawsuit Even be Necessary?

The vast majority of personal injury claims in West Virginia are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. However, this is not always the case. If the insurance carrier or at-fault party denies a claim or refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary for the injury victim and their attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. If a lawsuit is filed, the first step in this process will be the discovery phase.

Going Through Discovery

The official discovery phase of a personal injury claim will start after a lawsuit is actually filed in civil court. This discovery phase is the period of time where attorneys for both sides will have a chance to investigate the incident, obtain evidence, and exchange evidence with the other side. During the discovery phase, both the plaintiff and the defendant will be able to gain a thorough understanding of the evidence related to the case.

During the discovery process, both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to obtain the evidence and documents that the other side has related to the case. This can include requests for medical documents, surveillance footage of the incident, proof of lost earnings, and more.

During the discovery process, it may also be necessary for one or both parties to request that witnesses sit for depositions. Depositions take place outside of the courtroom, though witnesses will be under oath when they are asked questions. Anything said in a deposition can be used in the courtroom. Depositions give both sides the opportunity to build their case and learn additional information that they were previously unaware of.

Heading to Trial

While the discovery process is ongoing, attorneys for both sides will typically continue negotiations. Ultimately, all parties involved would like to avoid the expense of taking the case all the way to trial. However, injury victims will be pressured to settle for less than their claim is actually worth. If the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement during the discovery and negotiation process, it will likely be necessary to take the case to trial.

We often find that the discovery phase uncovers various types of evidence that will lead one party or the other to decide to settle the claim or drop their case. During discovery, as we mentioned above, you have both sides the opportunity to examine all of the facts and evidence related to the case. As attorneys learn more information, they will be able to go back to their respective clients and help formulate the best strategy moving forward for the case.