Why you have to participate in litigation.
Many of the cases we handle settle without filing a lawsuit. We frequently resolve a claim directly with the insurance company. When the time is right (at the conclusion of treatment, or when the future course of your injury can be determined by your doctors), we gather the medical documentation, present it, and negotiate a settlement. When the insurance company is realistic in evaluating your case, we are able to resolve your case without filing suit. Our clients’ primary role in the claim up to this point is seeking medical care, discussing your progress with us, and then working with us to respond to settlement offers.
If settlement talks are unsuccessful, and we file a lawsuit, everything changes. Instead of communicating with an insurance company representative, we are now dealing with lawyers on the other side. Additionally, Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence control the schedule and presentation of the case. For your part, you will be required to personally participate in litigation by responding to DISCOVERY.
Discovery is the process of the parties exchanging information before trial. Typically, in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Houston, a plaintiff (that’s you) is required to answer Interrogatories – written questions – under oath. These questions go beyond the medical expenses and lost income being submitted in the case. The defendant (the party you are suing) will have a right to ask questions about your relevant medical, work, and legal history. These questions will seem nosy, and they are! But the Rules allow the defendant to find out if you have had prior experiences that may relate to your current damage claims.
You are also required to furnish certain documents that relate to the claims you are making. You may be asked to sign authorizations. We typically argue against providing authorizations, but we handle these requests on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, you will be expected to sit for a deposition – testimony under oath in our office. The lawyer for the defendant will ask you questions concerning the accident, your injury, and your relevant history, and all of your answers are under oath, just like in court. The deposition will be recorded by a court reporter, and most are videotaped. We will attend and may object to certain questions. We will also go over the deposition with you, to prepare you for it.
So, if we are your injury lawyers, why do you have to do all this work? Because the rules allow the defendant to obtain your Interrogatories and deposition testimony under oath, and we cannot give sworn testimony for you. Only you can do that for yourself!
We expect and appreciate your cooperation, and we are here to help you in your case. But we want you to understand that these steps are all part of the process. You should discuss any questions you have about your role in your case with your lawyer.
Accident and Injury Law Firm of Terry Bryant