Auto Accidents: The Discovery Process
Personal Injury actions involving auto accidents typically involve large amounts of paperwork exchanged between the parties involved. Throughout the investigative process, specific questions are often directed at opposing parties, in an attempt to prove or negate the presence or absence of negligence. Some questions posed by the opposing party or parties may be irrelevant to the cause of action, or otherwise unlikely to lead to the discovery of relevant information. In such cases, your accident attorney may object to such irrelevant discovery requests. There are also many other grounds for which questions can be objected to, however the complexities involved in such procedural processes typically necessitate assistance from an attorney in order to ensure full protection of your legal rights. At Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., we have the experience and knowledge to properly respond to discovery requests, as well as direct our own discovery requests at opposing parties.
- Interrogatories: Process by which the parties serve written questions upon one another. Such requests must seek information that is both relevant and reasonably calculable to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Generally, the amount of written inquiries is limited to thirty, unless otherwise agreed upon between the parties, or by order of court.
- Request for Production: Request for copies, or the examination of documents, or other tangible items, of evidence within the possession and control of an opposing party or respondent, and in some cases, a non-party respondent, referred to as a respondent in discovery.
- Respondent in Discovery: Pursuant to the Illinois Respondent in Discovery Statute, the plaintiff to a civil cause of action may specifically name individuals, other than the named Defendants, who are believed to have information regarding who should be names as the proper Defendants to the action. Such individuals are referred to as respondents in discovery. 735 ILCS 5/2-402.
- Independent Medical Examinations (IME): Opposing counsel may request a claimant to a personal injury action to submit to a medical examination by an independent medical provider. In most circumstances, the examiner is agreed by the parties upon prior to the examination. Pursuant to Illinois Code of Procedure, counsel for the Plaintiff has the right to be present. In some cases, your injury attorney may request video recording for purposes of validating the reliability of findings, or for challenging the evidentiary value of conflicting evidence.
- Non-party Requests and Subpoenas: When a party to the action seeks discovery on a non-party to the action, a court issued subpoena is required to accompany such request. A request for cell phone records to the service provider is a non-party request commonly made by an attorney representing an auto accident client.
- Deposition: The oral examination of either a party or non-party, taken under oath, and in the presence of a court reporter. Common individuals which might be deposed by litigants include the injured, a medical provider or a witness expected to testify at trial.
- Discovery Violations: In the event that an opposing party fails to adhere to the rules pertaining to discovery, your personal injury attorney may be forced to file a written request with the Court demanding compliance with a rule or rules of procedure. Common discovery violation motions include, a Motions to Compel, a Motion for Protective Order, and in cases where a subpoena has been issued, Motion for Contempt.
The discovery process is typically the longest portion of a personal injury action. During this process, your personal injury attorney may ask you or your family specific questions, to assist in providing complete and accurate response to opposing counsel’s discovery requests. For example, you may be requested to confirm the contents of a document through affidavit, notarization, or otherwise. Your attorney will discuss with you which requests are relevant, and often times may choose to object to certain inquiries. Accordingly, it is imperative to have the support provided by a legal professional, who can provide competent representation throughout the discovery process.
If you were injured, or a loved one was killed in an auto accident, contact Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. today for a Free Personal Injury Consultation with one our licensed Chicago personal injury attorneys today at (773) 516-4100, or online at www.zneimerlaw.com.