Some clients think that every lawsuit that is filed goes to court. This is not true, as the filing of a lawsuit merely puts the case in a more “formal” environment, which forces the lawyers to exchange information in an effort toward reaching a resolution of your case.
In this article, we’ll introduce a few personal injury litigation terms that you should know before engaging with an attorney in Ohio.
What is Written Discovery?
The main instruments used for written discovery are known as “Interrogatories,” “Requests for Production of Documents,” and “Requests for Admissions.” These are questions related to your claim, and the document requests typically request all of your records and bills related to the personal injury claim and any prior records for any similar injuries that relate to your claim.
What is Oral Discovery?
After written discovery, lawyers typically want sworn statements from the witnesses. These sworn statements are called “depositions.” Both our office and the opposing counsel’s will want to do the depositions of the various witnesses to the case, including yourself. These depositions can last anywhere from a half-hour to all day. The lawyers ask questions of the witnesses “under oath” with regard to any information about the case. The lawyers also will explore any reasons that the witnesses may be biased. For example, a brother or friend of an opposing party would have reasons to slant the facts against you. When a deposition is completed, it will be typed up by a court reporter and available for all the parties to review.
There is no doubt the defense lawyer(s) will want to know your testimony. Before you are asked to testify, you will meet with your attorney to discuss what to expect during the deposition. Your attorney will be present at the deposition to protect you from any improper or deceptive questions, although these are rather rare.
What is a Defense Medical Exam?
In injury cases, the insurance company often requests that you be examined by a doctor of their choice. Sometimes this is before litigation has commenced, but this usually occurs after suit has been filed. You will be scheduled for an appointment to see a doctor chosen by the insurance company. The doctor will obtain a history from you, examine your medical records, do a brief physical examination of you, and write a report about your injuries. Your lawyer will be entitled to get a copy of this report once it is completed.
Oftentimes, the insurance company chooses doctors who will give opinions that minimize your injuries. Your job is to provide an accurate history to the doctor, be cooperative, and be careful not to overestimate or underestimate your symptoms to the evaluating physician. At the appropriate time, your attorney will provide you with more information about what to expect, which will assist you in evaluating the strength of the defense doctor’s position.
What are Court Proceedings?
During the discovery process, the court will conduct occasional hearings to monitor the status of trial preparation. These hearings are often called “status conferences” or “pretrials.” The judge will set deadlines for the lawyers and check to see that the lawyers are cooperating in exchanging the necessary information in a case. However, most courts do require you to be present for a final pretrial close to the trial date because that is often the time that settlement discussions occur. If your presence is required, your attorney will notify you in advance so that you can block off the time on your schedule to be available.
What is a Trial?
If your case has not settled, your attorney will continue aggressively to prepare for trial. Your attorney will have several discussions with you regarding the witnesses, the evidence, and how much compensation will be asked for from the jury. The expenses will significantly increase at this stage. Your attorney will prepare all of the necessary exhibits to be submitted to the jury, meet with you and the other witnesses, and keep you informed as to how long the trial is expected to last.