Ever wish you could be the judge and decide the verdict?
Interrogatories are written questions sent from one party to the other. The opposing party must answer the questions under oath. Interrogatories are often used to discover background information on the opposing party, including information about their medical history, employment history, and personal background. Interrogatories can also be used to learn facts the other party intends to rely on in support of their claims or defenses. In state court, a party must provide answers within 21 days. In federal court, a party must provide answers within 30 days.
Requests for Production
Requests for production require an opposing party to produce documents or things, or make them available for inspection. Requests for production are often used to obtain medical records and accident reports. However, they can also be used to compel inspection of products. For example, if a plaintiff is injured by a defective ladder, he can compel inspection of the ladder or similar ladders.
Subpoenas Duces Tecum
Subpoenas duces tecum are requests for production that are directed to third parties.
Depositions are the most powerful discovery tool. A deposition is the sworn testimony of a party or witness in response to oral questions from counsel. The parties usually gather in a conference room of one of the attorney’s offices in the presence of a court reporter. The court reporter transcribes the testimony of the party or witness as if it were testimony in live court. Although the setting is usually informal, the testimony given by a party or witness is sworn and is just as binding as if it were in court. Sometimes depositions are video recorded.
There are many reasons why a party takes a deposition. First and foremost, it is an opportunity to learn all the facts known by the witness. Additionally, the lawyer can lock a party or witness into a version of events. If the party or witness later contradicts their deposition testimony, this can be used against them at trial to impeach their credibility.
Another key reason to take depositions is to simply get a feel for the party or witness. Depositions are often the first time counsel has the opportunity to look at the opposing party face to face. Counsel can gauge how the party or witness will come across to a jury based on how they appear at depositions and how they answer questions. Will the witness be sympathetic to the jury? Does the witness come across as an honest person? Does the witness exaggerate or is he a “straight shooter?” A significant factor in the value of a personal injury claim is the believability and jury appeal of the plaintiff.
A party may take the deposition of a company, known as a corporate designee deposition. The party must identify the various areas to be examined prior to the deposition, and the company must appoint one or more people to attend the deposition and provide answers to questions regarding the various areas listed in the deposition notice.
In personal injury cases, a defendant may request that the plaintiff undergo a medical examination. Typically these examinations are coordinated without court involvement. The plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel agree on a doctor, usually selected by the defendant’s counsel, to meet with and examine the plaintiff. The doctor must then issue a report detailing his findings.