How Evidence Is Collected in New Jersey Personal Injury Claims
The Tools Your Lawyer May Use to Gather Information about Your Case
When you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, it’s not enough to simply allege that the defendant engaged in wrongful conduct. You must provide evidence that convinces jurors that your statement of the facts is more believable than the defendant’s version. That’s done with evidence. How does your attorney effectively gather that evidence?
The Discovery Process in New Jersey
In legal terms, all actions involved in the gathering of evidence are generally referred to as “discovery.” The discovery process is considered to be “open.” That means that all parties have an equal right of access to all information related to the lawsuit. There is no affirmative duty to disclose evidence that you have obtained, but you cannot intentionally conceal or fail to disclose evidence requested.
Discovery Tools Built Into the Legal Process
There are three specific types of discovery tools that are built into the trial process:
- Depositions—Depositions are structured meetings where lawyers for all parties have the opportunity to ask questions related to the lawsuit. A witness or a party may be deposed. A court reporter is customarily present to document all testimony in writing, and the deposition may be videotaped. Most witnesses voluntarily attend depositions, but the court has the power to compel attendance with a subpoena.
- Requests for production—Attorneys for either side may ask opposing counsel to produce physical evidence for review, including documents or other physical objects
- Interrogatories—Interrogatories are written questions submitted by one party to another party. Because of concerns that this tool may be unfairly used to burden another party, the judge will typically set limits on the number of interrogatories that may be submitted.
Discovery Tool Outside the Legal Process
It is fairly common for attorneys to retain the services of a private investigator, who may examine the scene of the accident, monitor the actions of the other party, or interview any potential witness. The relationship with the private investigator does not, however, fall under the supervision or jurisdiction of the court. A party does not need permission to hire a P.I., but a witness may not be compelled to speak to or answer questions from a private detective.
A lawyer may also work closely with expert witnesses to gather and assimilate evidence. The expert witness may, however, be subject to deposition, if requested by the other party.
Contact Our Office
At the Lee Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience successfully handling personal injury claims. Call us at 973-315-9080 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary. We welcome all major credit cards. ¡Nosotros hablamos español!