Discovery is a pre-trial phase of a lawsuit whereby the plaintiff answers questions under oath. Many cases settle before getting to this stage, so not all plaintiffs go through this process. Discovery does not take place in court; rather it’s in a board room setting.
Discoveries come in two styles, the first style being more common. It proceeds as a learning exercise where the defence will literally try to “discover” the plaintiff’s story through a series of questions. The second style of discovery proceeds as a cross-examination. Here, the lawyer asking questions, or doing the “discovering” in other words, prepares beforehand and asks leading questions in effort to get the plaintiff to hurt his or her own case. This requires skill and much preparation on the part of the examining lawyer.
Plaintiffs can do a number of things to perform well in their discovery. Newfoundland personal injury lawyers find that clients who practice these 10 tips have a better overall discovery experience and a good case result.
- Tell the truth. Insurance companies have access to huge databases and will even spy on you. If you lie, they will find out. Never exaggerate.
- Be “on guard” the whole time. The other side may act friendly and professional but they are not your friends. Their interest conflicts with yours.
- Be pleasant, polite, and don’t show any attitude or get into a personal conflict with a lawyer. This won’t help.
- Listen to the whole question and resist the urge to interrupt. You want this process to go smoothly and you don’t want to give more information than required by starting an answer to the wrong question.
- Don’t volunteer answers to questions they didn’t ask. If they don’t ask the “right” question, tough for them.
- Don’t answer a question you don’t fully understand. This could be used against you in some way that might not be immediately apparent. Say you don’t understand.
- Don’t try to guess where they are leading you with their question. Your priority is to concentrate on giving good, truthful answers.
- Don’t guess the answer to a question. You are not required to have an answer to every single question. If you are estimating, tell them that, or they will treat your estimate as a confident response.
- Trust your lawyer to protect you from questions not allowed under the rules. If you’ve gotten to the discovery stage of a lawsuit with your lawyer, hopefully he or she is a good one and will act accordingly.
- Before the discovery, tell your lawyer what questions you’re afraid of. A good injury lawyer will help you prepare for discovery.
Clients who prepare well and who are willing to follow their lawyer’s advice will get the best results from their discovery, leading to more money for their injury claim.