Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2024 at 1:28 pm    

Pre-trial and Discovery Phases in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Image

You were in an accident in Oklahoma, saw a doctor, and contacted a lawyer who has agreed to take your case. What happens next? What do you need to know about the pre-trial and discovery phase of a lawsuit? Clients sometimes need help understanding the process of initiating a lawsuit. Attorneys must navigate the complex legal procedures, including gathering evidence and filing motions. States all have specific rules of procedure to follow. Still, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures specify that the rules are “to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” That purpose remains valid for the states.

Abel Law Firm is a fierce advocate for accident victims. Our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers know the complexity of the law and procedures. A personal injury lawsuit is a complex and stressful experience to navigate. Clients should have a comprehensive overview of the discovery phase of a lawsuit, what happens at a pre-trial, and how to prepare for these critical stages.

What is Discovery?

The discovery phase of a lawsuit is crucial because each side can research and gather the necessary evidence. During this phase, both parties gather evidence for their respective cases and learn about the facts and issues. A doctor would not diagnose a patient without an examination, and a lawyer should not go to trial without understanding the evidence on both sides. A complete and thorough discovery process is necessary to build a compelling personal injury claim.

How Does Each Party Prepare for Discovery?

What should you do in preparing for discovery in injury lawsuits? Attorneys must prepare for the discovery phase in personal injury lawsuits. Preparation is critical to a successful discovery phase. Discovery happens after initial interviews with potential clients, so attorneys should have already done some research. A proficient lawyer will gather some information before discovery begins.

  • Gather Documentation — Each party collects all insurance information, relevant medical records, and other documents relevant to the incident. Qualified attorneys thoroughly review this information before making it available for discovery.
  • Identify Witnesses — An experienced attorney will list potential expert witnesses with valuable testimony. These may include medical personnel and anyone who witnessed the incident.

A skilled attorney will work with clients to help them understand the timeline and what to expect at each stage of the discovery process. Clients should provide honest and thorough answers to their attorneys before discovery begins. An attorney needs to start discovery with a comprehensive understanding of the case. Incomplete or misleading responses may harm the client’s case.

How Long Does the Discovery Phase Take in a Personal Injury Case?

The length of discovery depends on the complexity of the case. Discovery can last from a few months to well over a year. A case involving multiple parties may take longer than a case involving two people. The length of time is less important than ensuring the discovery process is as thorough as possible. Attorneys must arm themselves with all the evidence available to them to reach the best possible outcome for their clients. Both parties should ensure no unnecessary delays in the process, however.

What Happens During the Discovery Phase?

The discovery phase in personal injury cases can take months or even years. The parties to the case have a right to evidence that will help them prove their case. Discovery allows both sides to interview potential witnesses and review potential evidence that may be helpful or harmful to their case.

The first step of the discovery process often involves interviewing the witnesses. These interviews can happen in a few ways:

  • Interrogatories are written questions that each party sends to the opposing party. Parties are under oath to tell the truth, just as they would be at a trial. Interrogatories clarify facts and identify critical issues.
  • Depositions are oral questions given by judges and jury members. Depositions occur outside of a courtroom, but witnesses are still under oath. The parties may use the recorded testimony in court if necessary.

Parties can ask each other to admit or deny certain statements to establish undisputed facts. Establishing undisputed facts can simplify the trial. There is no point in arguing over information about the case that both parties already agree on.

Discovery also involves requesting medical bills and records, accident reports, employment records, and other evidence related to the case. The plaintiff or defendant can ask for any relevant evidence.

What Should Clients Expect During Personal Injury Pre-trial?

Pre-trial and Discovery Phases in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Image 2

Discovery leads into the pre-trial phase. Attorneys present motions to the court and have conferences with the judge. Both sides finalize their preparations for trial during the pre-trial phase. Attorneys negotiate potential settlement agreements during this stage. Pre-trial involves several key steps:

  • Pre-trial Motions — The U.S. Federal Court defines motions as “requests with the court seeking rulings on the discovery of evidence, or on the procedures to be followed at trial.” Attorneys may file pre-trial motions to resolve specific issues before the trial begins. Motions include requests to dismiss evidence or dismiss parts of the case. An attorney is skilled at determining what motions to file and the procedure necessary to file those motions.
  • Pre-trial Conferences — Pre-trial conferences are meetings between the judge and the attorneys to discuss the case’s status and ongoing The judge may encourage the parties to work on a settlement and set a trial date.
  • Settlement Negotiations – Many personal injury cases are settled before they reach trial. Settlement negotiations can happen at any point but often intensify during the pre-trial phase. The parties may choose to mediate the case without going to trial.

Most cases conclude at the end of the settlement process. If the parties do not settle, a skilled lawyer from our law firm with knowledge of the case will be essential to represent you in court.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

Still unsure about the pre-trial and discovery phase of a lawsuit? Understanding the discovery phase and pre-trial process in a personal injury lawsuit is essential for anyone involved in such a case. The process can be daunting, but being well-prepared and informed can help you handle these stages more effectively and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

A skilled personal injury attorney who serves Oklahoma City can guide you through this process of filing a lawsuit. If you have been injured and need assistance with a personal injury case, contact Abel Law Firm at (405) 239-7046 for skilled legal guidance.

Related Posts:

Why Some Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

Voted Oklahoma's Best Personal Injury Law Firm
The Journal Record 2023 Reader Rankings - Top Winner - Abel Law Firm - Best Peronal Injury Law Firm
The Journal Record 2023 Reader Rankings - Top Winner - Abel Law Firm - Best Peronal Injury Law Firm

Oklahomans across the state have recognized the Abel Law Firm's unique heritage as a statewide institution. Founded by Ed Abel, and today led by his son, Luke Abel, our personal injury law firm has become synonymous with empathy, compassion, and the highest professional performance serving our neighbors. Our family has sought to leave a profound impact upon the State of Oklahoma. We appreciate that former Governor Mary Fallin recognized that dedication when she declared May 1st "Ed Abel Day."

To be named Oklahoma's Best Personal Injury Law Firm is humbling. We are grateful to have won this prestigious honor. We work every day to earn the trust of those we serve: Oklahoma families who are facing some of the most difficulty days of their lives due to the negligence of others. It is our intention and resolve to continue to be deserving of the faith Oklahomans have placed in our family's law firm. Thank you!

Get a free case review