The Personal Injury Process in Tulsa: The Discovery Process
Understanding interrogatories, depositions, and evidence requests
The formal “discovery” phases of a personal injury lawsuit normally take place after the initial consultation, the initial investigation of the accident, and the filing of your complaint and the answers by the defendants. Discovery is our chance to get to know as much as we can about the defendant(s)’ case as possible, and for the defendants to get to know as much about your case.
Discovery generally consists of three parts – written questions called interrogatories, oral questions called depositions, and requests from each side to produce documents and evidence about the accident and about your injuries. Biby Law Firm explains the purpose of the questions, what questions are likely to be asked, and how to think through your answers. We are skilled at questioning the defendants and deciding which witnesses should also be questioned.
How can we help?
- How do interrogatories help my Tulsa personal injury case?
- Common questions in formal interrogatories
- What you should know about answering interrogatories
- How do depositions help my Tulsa personal injury cases?
- What documents do you request in Tulsa personal injury cases?
- Do you have a personal injury lawyer near me?
How do interrogatories help my Tulsa personal injury case?
Each party to the car accident, premises liability claim, or any other type of personal injury case has the right to submit interrogatories to the other parties once a lawsuit has been filed. Interrogatories are formal questions that can be used by either side in your case. They are not submitted to witnesses who are not plaintiffs or defendants.
Oklahoma has specific rules that govern the interrogatory phase of the discovery process. For example:
- The interrogatories must be answered under oath unless the party (through the lawyers) objects and states the reasons for the objection.
- The number of interrogatories “shall not exceed thirty in number.”
- “Interrogatories inquiring as to the names and locations of witnesses, or the existence, location and custodian of documents or physical evidence shall be construed as one interrogatory.”
Usually, the interrogatories are answered by each side before depositions are scheduled – though some lawyers like to conduct the depositions first for strategic purposes.
Common questions in formal interrogatories
In personal injury cases you will be asked questions covering a wide range of topics. That said, there are a few areas that are found within almost every single set of discovery. Almost every set of discovery includes questions about how the accident happened. For example, you may be asked where you came from and where you were traveling to when the accident occurred, as well as many questions about your path and reactions immediately before and after the accident. Similarly, questions regarding damages being claimed, included the nature of your injuries, healthcare providers you’ve seen, future medical needs and the like will always be asked by opposing counsel. They will also ask for background information on the person making the claims to get a feel for their life experiences, educational and familial circumstances and work history. A recurrent theme throughout many of the questions is comparing the injured person’s circumstances from before the traumatic event compared to afterwards, including prior claims, injuries and medical treatment to the body parts involved in the current case.
The focus of our questions of the drivers, property owners, and manufacturers is usually just about the liability phase of your case – unless a defendant is claiming your injuries are due to a prior existing condition, or they’re raising some other medical issue.
The answers to the questions help each side understand the strength and weaknesses of each side’s case. The answers can generally be used in court if either side testifies in a manner that is different than what was said in the interrogatories.
Other common questions may focus on:
- Your insurance policy – vehicle, commercial, homeowners, etc.
- The time and day the incident occurred
- The weather conditions when it occurred (if applicable)
- The conditions of the area where you were injured (if applicable)
- Any medications you take and were taking at the time
- Where you currently live, and any addresses you’ve had for the last 10 years
- Whether you’ve ever gone by any other names
- Your employment history
- Any witnesses who can attest to the events of the day, and/or any people you’ve spoken to about your case/accident/injury
- Whether you were drinking or impaired at the time of the event
What you should know about answering interrogatories
First and foremost, you need to be honest. Tell the truth, but don’t embellish. For example, if the interrogatory asks, “Do you wear glasses?” and you do, say “yes.” You don’t need to add additional details like “Well, that day I had my spare pair of glasses on” or “I was wearing my glasses but one of the lenses was a little smudged, so at the stop light I took them off to clean them.”
What you should do, however, is list out every injury you sustained – no matter how “small.” Suffered a brain injury AND a cut to your leg? Give as much detail as you can about both. You don’t have to sound like a doctor or a lawyer, just tell the truth about what happened to you. Oftentimes defense attorneys will ask questions that they know are unlikely to be answered by people familiar with how personal injury cases work or what the law is on a given topic. Unrepresented individuals, or those who retain inexperienced attorneys in the realm of personal injury, will oftentimes divulge or give access to information that otherwise would never be part of a case had a trained eye been looking over the case. The attorneys at Biby Law Firm deal with these types of cases and questions every single day.
How do depositions help my Tulsa personal injury cases?
Depositions are generally held at a lawyer’s office, a court reporter’s office or the courthouse. he respective lawyers, the deponent (the person being deposed, who may or may not be a party) and the court stenographer are present. In some instances, the deposition may also be videotaped by a videographer. The questions are generally similar to those that are asked in the interrogatories except that the lawyers can ask follow-up questions to focus on certain issues and ask questions that they didn’t think to ask in the interrogatories.
Our Tulsa lawyers will explain the dos and don’ts of answering questions if and when you are deposed. For example, you can say you don’t understand a question and ask the questioning lawyer to clarify. You should wait a second before answering to see if we have an objection. You should not volunteer more information than the question required. Normally, only the lawyer for the defendant(s) questions you. While depositions are not a trial, they are questions answered under oath, meaning they can be used at trial for various purposes, including to impeach a deponent’s testimony if different than initially given by them.
In addition to obtaining evidence, the depositions are a chance for each side to see what type of witness each party will make in court. Relax. Generally, in personal injury cases, you just need to be yourself. It’s perfectly natural to be nervous. Rest assured our attorneys will set aside as much time as you may need to ensure you are prepared to give your deposition.
What documents do you request in Tulsa personal injury cases?
In Tulsa personal injury cases, each party to the case also has the right to request the opposing party to produce certain documents or other information. For example, in a truck accident case, we’ll request to see many items including:
- The insurance policies for each defendant
- Any electronic hours of service logs
- Any records of truck maintenance
- Any contracts showing the shipping arrangements
- Phone information that might indicate the driver was texting while driving
If a defendant fails to comply or only partially responds to a question we will ask the judge assigned to your case to order the defendant to comply.
Do you have a personal injury lawyer near me?
We meet with clients at our offices located at 1646 S Denver Ave. and 6305 E 120th Ct. Suite K9. We do conduct conversations at your home or a healthcare facility if you’re unable to meet with us in person. Our Tulsa personal injury lawyers also hold video conferences by appointment.
The discovery process is a critical part of your case. Our Tulsa personal injury lawyers are skilled litigators who are happy to guide you through any claim you may have from beginning to end.
Talk to an experienced Tulsa accident lawyer now
The insurance companies have experienced skilled defense lawyers on their side. Our seasoned personal injury lawyers understand all phases of the litigation process including the discovery process. We’ll thoroughly question the defendants and witnesses. We anticipate the strategies defense lawyers try to use to make the discovery process difficult. Many cases are won or lost during the discovery phases. At Biby Law Firm, our accident lawyers are ready to fight for you. Call us or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve all of Oklahoma including the communities of Broken Arrow, Bixby, Claremore, Jenks, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Owasso, Wagoner, Muskogee, and the surrounding areas.