Accident or injury cases in Philadelphia are relatively short compared to cases filed in other counties like Montgomery County or Delaware County. Due to the high volume of cases in Philadelphia, most accident and injury cases will be assigned to the short (“Expedited”) or medium (“Standard”) time schedule or track. Only cases involving multiple parties or complicated issues, like a products liability case, will be assigned to a longer time schedule, the “Complex” track. Learn more about the initial steps to filing an accident or injury lawsuit in Philadelphia.
After a case is filed and assigned to a specific schedule, the parties will conduct discovery. In the discovery phase of an accident lawsuit, the parties will learn about the facts, the issues, the damages, and the strengths and weaknesses of their cases.
The discovery phase of an accident or injury case is one of the most important parts of the case. Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters pay attention during the discovery phase and will pay particular attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiff’s case.
Below is a summary of the discovery phase in an accident or injury lawsuit in Philadelphia:
1. Initial Discovery. After a Complaint is filed and answered by the defendant(s), the parties will engage in written discovery. Each side will serve and answer Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. Interrogatories are questions related to the case – the who, what, where, when, and why questions. The Requests for Production of Documents are requests for all physical and tangible evidence and documents such as video surveillance footage, medical records, police reports, etc. If either side fails to answer written discovery, they may be sanctioned by the court.
2. Depositions. After the written discovery is complete, the parties will depose each other as well as other important witnesses. In many accident and injury cases, only the parties will be deposed. Depending on the case, it may be necessary to depose witnesses who can attest to the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. After the depositions are complete, additional discovery may be necessary to strengthen weak areas of the case. For example, in an accident case where liability is at issue, it may be important to get a statement from an eyewitness who attests to an important detail, making liability clear (i.e., the light was clearly red when the defendant started turning, thus causing the collision).
3. Expert Discovery. Depending on the case, expert witnesses may be necessary, and during this phase, expert reports will be exchanged, if they haven’t already. On the injured plaintiff’s side, medical doctors often provide expert opinions as to the severity of an injury and whether it was caused by the accident. Also, liability experts might be necessary. For instance, in a slip and fall accident case, a biomechanical expert may be needed to explain how the accident occurred. In a defective motorcycle products liability case, an expert will be needed to explain the motorcycle defect.
In almost every injury lawsuit, the defense will hire a doctor to conduct what is called an “independent medical exam” (IME). The IME is simply a medical examination performed by a doctor paid for by the defense. The doctor will examine the plaintiff and all relevant medical records and then write a report. These reports can cost thousands of dollars. In most injury and accident lawsuits, IME doctors rebut that the plaintiff’s injuries are as severe as alleged or rebut that the injuries are related to the accident.
Related injury and accident legal article: Filing an Accident and Injury Lawsuit in Philadelphia – What to Expect
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