Discovery is a crucial part of the litigation process in Texas, and throughout the U.S., that gives both sides an opportunity to uncover evidence relevant to their case before it goes to trial. In a medical malpractice suit, Texas courts allow you to make wide-ranging requests for disciplinary records. You could go the route of requesting one specific document – say, concerning your own doctor specifically – or opt for an all encompassing approach and ask for every single record from their department in the last decade. If there is any hint that this information might impact evidence then it’s likely going to get approved regardless.
Every discovery request during a trial is ultimately in the hands of the presiding judge. If your requested evidence is confirmed, then it’s legally binding for all parties — meaning you’re due to receive full and complete records that are stored accurately without any destruction or alteration from either side; otherwise there could be serious repercussions.
Types of Evidence:
Aside from records, there are other types of evidence that can be requested in a personal injury case. Some common examples include:
- Requests for admissions: These are specific questions posed to the other party that are worded to try and elicit an admission of something that may be inconsistent with their story. For instance, in a car accident case, a request for admission might ask if the person saw that the traffic light was red before they began to turn.
- Interrogatories: These are open-ended questions that are intended to prompt a detailed response from the other party. For example, in a case involving a drunk driving accident, an interrogatory might ask for a detailed account of the evidence that will be used to prove the person was sober at the time of the accident.
- Requests for production: These requests compel the other side to provide specific documents or materials that are relevant to the case. For example, in a case involving medical malpractice at a hospital, a request for production might ask for disciplinary records or electronic communications that could shed light on the case.
- Depositions: These are formal statements made by witnesses prior to trial. Witnesses must testify under oath, with representatives from both sides of the case present. While a judge is not typically present for a deposition, it may be used as evidence during the trial, and objections can be made by lawyers if necessary.
How Discovery Can Help Your Case:
In a personal injury claim, the discovery process can be advantageous to the plaintiff since they bear the burden of proving their case. However, there are potential drawbacks to the discovery process:
There is a risk that evidence uncovered during discovery may weaken the plaintiff’s position. For example, in a whiplash claim, prior medical records that show previous neck pain may be used by the insurance company to argue against the plaintiff’s claims. A skilled lawyer can help anticipate potential weaknesses in the case and take steps to mitigate them before they become problematic during discovery.
Discovery can also be costly, as it may involve expenses such as taking depositions, reviewing large amounts of documents, and storing physical evidence. Fortunately, most personal injury cases do not require extensive discovery. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide an estimate of the amount of work involved in a case and advise the plaintiff on whether it is financially viable to proceed.