Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer
This is the third of a series of blog posts detailing the Stages of a Personal Injury Case. See our previous posts outlining what to expect when first meeting with a Michigan personal injury attorney, as well as our post on the pre-suit investigation and filing of the lawsuit, by clicking here.
What Is Discovery In My Michigan Personal Injury Case?
Discovery is the process wherein the parties are able to exchange evidence concerning your claim for damages in an effort prepare and present their case at trial. The Michigan Court Rules are very liberal as to the scope of what is discoverable. The goal of discovery is to limit the number of surprises at trial. As a result, the parties are allowed discovery on “any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action.” MCR 2.302(B)(1). In fact, even if the evidence will not be admissible at trial, it may still be discoverable if that evidence is likely to lead to other evidence that would be admissible.
What Are The Methods Used During The Discovery Process?
Discovery can be conducted as early as the filing of plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff is allowed to serve discovery requests along with the summons and complaint that is served on defendant. Generally, however, discovery begins within a reasonable amount of time after the plaintiff files the lawsuit. Whether your case involves a car accident, slip and fall accident, dog bite attack, or some other accident, the discovery methods in Michigan are the same:
- Interrogatories: These are written questions relevant to the claim that must be answered under oath within a time period specified by court rule (generally 28 days). While your attorney is permitted to assist, each interrogatory must be answered under oath.
- Requests for Production of Documents: Frequently, along with interrogatories, the opposing party will request that certain documents relevant to the case also be produced. This can include copies of medical records, police report/incident report, billing records, automobile repair receipts, videos/photos that either party may have that is relevant to the case, etc.
- Requests for Admissions: These requests will ask that the opposing party admit certain facts, in an effort to narrow the issues at trial. Subject to certain rules, the party responding can admit, deny or object to each request to admit.
- Depositions: A deposition is a meeting whereby the opposing counsel is allowed to ask questions to the opposing party or a witness. The person deposed is required to answer those questions under oath. A transcript of each question and each answer is created by a court reporter. Your attorney is allowed to be present and object to questions that are irrelevant or exceed the scope of the examination. The deposition may also be videotaped in certain situations.
- Medical Examinations: In many personal injury cases, the insurance company or opposing counsel will request that you submit to a medical examination by a healthcare professional. This professional will then create a report and offer testimony on behalf of the insurance company or defense counsel.