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?
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.
There are three specific types of discovery tools that are built into the trial 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.
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