As an Accident Victim, What do I Need to Know About Discovery?

You have been involved in an accident and suffered serious damages, and you cannot get the other driver or his or her insurance company to cooperate with you. At this point, you make a wise decision to consult a seasoned personal injury attorney. Your counsel makes every effort to get the case to settle before filing suit, but, as is often the case, the insurance company takes a hard line and your attorney is forced to file a lawsuit. The discovery process is about to begin; what does that mean to you as the plaintiff in a lawsuit?


Discovery in General

In every lawsuit, there is a discovery period. Lawyers do not just walk into court knowing the answers to every question they are about to ask, like it is often depicted on television. Lawyers use the discovery process to determine facts and potential testimony in the case. They do this by using carefully circumscribed processes that are sometimes confusing to the public to amass useful information that will benefit your case if it comes to trial and also to understand what potentially damaging information can be potentially used against you.


Stages of Discovery

There are three basic stages found in the discovery process in a personal injury case. These are written discovery, document production and depositions.


Written Discovery

The first stage of discovery is written discovery. This is usually made up of a series of questions called interrogatories that are exchanged by the two sides to a lawsuit. These questions can be incredibly broad or incredibly specific. These questions are designed to elicit basic information about the situation and circumstances that have brought the parties to court. Topics for interrogatories often include background information, specific actions that the parties took, as well as questions regarding potential legal theories of the case. Your attorney will guide you through what is an appropriate answer for all of them.


Document Production

In a personal injury case like a car accident, the document production stage might include requests for police reports, medical bills, statements of time lost at work and medical records.



The final stage in discovery is depositions. A deposition involves a witness giving a sworn statement in front of attorneys and a court reporter. Depositions serve several purposes. They commit witnesses to a path of testimony and limit the chances of surprise testimony for either side. It lets both parties understand what information the opposite side has and (perhaps) how they intend to use it. Finally, it lets the attorneys know how their witnesses will perform in a formal fact-finding scenario.


Tips About Discovery

It is incredibly important to understand that when this process starts, you have to be upfront and honest with your attorney. In many states, including Alaska, there are provisions requiring disclosure without formal discovery even happening. In other words, if you are trying to hide something, chances are that it will be found. Another tip is to let your attorney do his or her job. Your lawyer will decide what is an inappropriate question or document request and will consult with you on how you should testify at your deposition. The final tip is to answer the questions. This means to answer the question put to you and not volunteer information whether in interrogatories or while being deposed.

Experienced attorneys deal with discovery every day. The process is not the same as many have seen on television, but it is a crucial part of a successful personal injury case. Your attorney is there to help see you through it. Therefore, it is important to choose an attorney who is experienced, skilled and has a thorough knowledge of the courts. The attorneys at Power & Power Law in Anchorage have decades of experience fighting for injury victims. If you have been injured, give us a call at 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990 or click here to set up your initial consultation and put us to work protecting your ri