What is Discovery?

Discovery refers to the period during a lawsuit where both sides share information, evidence, and testimony regarding the case at hand. General information about a case is also referred to as discovery. 

Cases are subject to discovery rules that are enforced by judges. If you have questions about discovery, you should speak to an experienced attorney to get help. Contact our Cleawater law office today at (727) 796-8282.

How Does Discovery Work in Florida?

In Florida, the discovery process is directed by The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The discovery period begins after the parties file a petition, answer, and any counterclaims. Both sides will share general information about the case and each party’s claims and defenses. 

The discovery process can take time, often requiring months to complete. During this phase, it is important to gather as much information as possible to build the strongest possible case. If you fail to obtain relevant discovery, you might hurt your chances of recovering your full damages.

Why Discovery is Important in a Personal Injury Case

Discovery is the foundation of most cases. It aims to provide both sides with the information needed to determine the next steps in a case. Discovery allows both plaintiff and defendant to see and hear what evidence would go in front of a jury or judge if a trial took place. If both sides are able to see how the case could play out, they might be more apt to resolve the case without a trial.

Courts will look to encourage settlements when possible to minimize the inefficiency of a trial. If both sides are willing to settle a case, they can obtain a guaranteed outcome. If they cannot settle, they risk the extensive costs of litigation and the uncertainty of a jury trial.

The Main Types of Discovery

There are four main types of discovery in Florida personal injury cases, they are:

  • Depositions: Depositions are recorded and sworn testimony by case parties and their witnesses. These depositions are subject to the rules of evidence and typically take place outside of the courtroom. An attorney conducts the deposition and asks oral questions of the deponent.
  • Interrogatories: Interrogatories are basic written questions that parties submit to one another. These can include the most basic information needed for claims and help to establish the issues in a case.
  • Requests for Production: Requests for production ask a party to turn over specific documents and evidence related to a case. These requests can help a party obtain medical records, police reports, business records, and more.
  • Requests for Admission: Requests for admission ask a party to admit to certain allegations or requests. These requests help parties understand the contested issues in a case.

Suppose someone responding to a discovery request is worried that information will result in abusive action by the other side. In that case, they can ask the court for a protective order. This protective order can limit the discovery, as well as how the discovery can be used. If a lawsuit party is not following discovery rules or is refusing to turn over evidence, the court can force them to comply or face sanction. 

Examples of Discovery

Discovery comes in many shapes and forms. Some of the most common types of discovery include:

  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Property damage reports
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Phone and text message records
  • Business records
  • Video evidence
  • Electronic discovery (e-discovery)

Discovery is not limited to what is listed above. It is important to know what information you are looking to obtain to make the correct discovery requests. 

Florida Civil Procedure Limits on Discovery

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure place limits on discovery. Only relevant, non-privileged information is discoverable in Florida. 

Relevant information can be anything that pertains to or adds information to the case. If information is unrelated to a case, it is irrelevant and undiscoverable. Privileged information can include information or communication between an attorney and client or a doctor and patient, among other things. 

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney For Help

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should contact an attorney. An attorney can investigate your accident to gather evidence and identify liable parties. They can help you file an insurance claim, if available, to recover compensation for your injuries. Likewise, they can help you file a personal injury suit and discover the information you need to win your case.