Fact Finding and the Discovery Process
One of the most important facets of the legal system is the principle that there should be as few surprises as possible in the course of a lawsuit. Since the late 1940’s, the federal court system has required disclosure of all relevant facts and documents to the other side prior to trial, and virtually every state has followed its lead. The disclosure is accomplished through a methodical process known as the discovery. According to Mr. Charles Spinner, the best personal injury lawyer Tampa has to offer, discovery takes three basic forms: written discovery, document production and depositions. Now to find out how and exactly what is entailed in these methods of discovery be sure to read on.
Written Discovery: Interrogatories & Requests for Admission
Interrogatories are questions requiring your version of the fact and of your claims. They can be pre-printed “form” interrogatories, or specific questions asked just for your case called “special” interrogatories, or specific questions asked just for your case called “special” interrogatories. According to Mr. Spinner, the best personal injury lawyer Tampa has in practice, questions can range from the broad (“What happened on April 26, 2004?”) to the specific (“Is it your position that the defendant was wearing sunglasses at 2:30 p.m. on April 26, 2004?”). If the questions asked are not fair questions or are difficult to understand, your attorney will help you decide what you should object to. Requests for admission are not often used, but can be a very powerful tool. According to Mr. Spinner, the best personal injury lawyer Tampa has to offer, they ask a party to admit or deny certain specific facts which might be pertaining to the case, and they carry with them certain penalties for not answering, for answering falsely or even answering late.
Document production is a fairly sell-explanatory. Any party has a right to see most documents that might relate to the case in any way shape or form. According to Mr. Spinner, the top auto accident lawyer Tampa has to offer, these issues are particularly more complex when it comes to medical malpractice cases or product defect cases, the documents involved can be voluminous. Increasingly, courts are allowing access to computer files as an aspect of the document discovery. In cases where enough is at stake to justify it, courts have even allowed litigants to reconstruct deleted files (like e-mail), although that practice has not yet become common.
If you’ve been in involved in cases such as these, odds are that you have likely heard of depositions. Depositions are sworn statements, when a person will answer questions that have been posed by the opposition’s attorney, and a court reporter will be bale to create a transcript of all that has been said during this entire process. Depending on what needs to be said during the deposition, it might range anywhere from an hour long, to over a week and even more, in certain rarer cases. While all attorneys certainly must have their own reasons for having depositions – and according to Mr. Spinner, the top auto accident lawyer Tampa has to offer, there are usually three specific reasons why: to lock people into their stories, to see what the other side has, and to do a “practice trial,” that is, to see how a witness will appear and conduct themselves before a judge or jury.
Your attorney will tell you what he or she wants from you if you are or have been deposed, but there are two general things to remember. Firstly, never guess – the purpose of a deposition is to give facts, not to speculate as to what might have happened. Even if it makes you insecure or self-conscious to say it, sometimes, just simply saying “I don’t know” might be the best idea. Second, it is human nature to want to explain things so that your listener understands, but you should resist the impulse. It is your opponent’s job to get the answers. It is your job to answer only the question asked, not to offer additional information. As the top auto accident lawyer Tampa has in practice, Mr. Spinner believes its vital that individuals get the best possible professional legal help when it comes to the discovery process, as it should never be taken lightly. Opposing counsel will do everything it can in an effort to challenge and poke holes within your story and completely discredit your character – making you seem to be a bad witness. For more information about the discovery process be sure to contact Spinner Law Firm today.