If you have been injured as the result of somebody else’s negligence or recklessness—for instance, in a motor vehicle crash, in an explosion, through the defect of a product or because you slipped and fell on an improperly or poorly maintained surface—you have the right to seek compensation. Many times, the insurance company for the at-fault party will make you a settlement offer. If you choose to take their offer, you are entering into an agreement with the insurance company that you accept the amount of compensation and will not (and cannot, except in very rare circumstances) sue them after the fact. If you feel the amount of the settlement is less than fair, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Discovery helps lay the foundation for your lawsuit
Once you have decided that filing a lawsuit is the best course of action, one of the first steps your Texas personal injury attorney will take is to start the discovery process. Discovery is the legal process by which facts are ascertained: specifically, any non-privileged information that is relevant to your case. Both sides, the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the insurance company or the at-fault party), are required to share any evidence they plan to use during the trial. Your attorney is looking for anything that can be used as evidence against the defendant. (One common example: if you were injured in a car wreck, was the other party driving under the influence of alcohol?)
Depending on the complexity of the case, steps in the discovery process may include:
- Interrogatories: These are written requests for information. You are required to answer truthfully, under oath. Topics may include the circumstances of the accident, the extent of injuries, the medical treatments received, and in some cases, information about your employment, finances and any past lawsuits in which you may have been involved.
- Admissions: Under Texas Civil Code 198.1, either party may serve “written requests that the other party admit the truth of any matter within the scope of discovery, including statements of opinion or of fact or of the application of law to fact, or the genuineness of any documents served with the request or otherwise made available for inspection and copying…” In short, this is the opportunity to admit the truth, deny, or state that you neither admit nor deny the truth of any factual statements made.
- Request for production of documents, inspection or entry: Inevitably, the attorney for the defendant will request medical records and bills for any treatments you received. A request for entry means that “a party may gain entry on designated land or other property to inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the property or any designated object.”
- Deposition: This is where witnesses are called and make statements, under oath, before the judge, and with a court reporter present.
Find out more about how our Texas personal injury lawyers work to get you maximum compensation for your injury
If the insurance company has low-balled your claim and you wish to pursue a lawsuit, talk to an attorney with experience in all aspects of Texas personal injury law. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, please contact us online or call us at (281) 645-5000.