What Constitutes Discovery in Personal Injury Cases? - 4 minutes read


Discovery in a personal injury lawsuit is a formal process for attorneys and their clients to obtain valuable information pertinent to their case. In this phase, both sides, the plaintiff and the defendant, get to know what information the other party has. During discovery, medical records and their review using dedicated medical review solutions is an important process that helps attorneys prepare for the case and avoid any surprises. Discovery phase begins after the complaint is filed by the plaintiff lawyer, and the defense lawyer files the answer. The period from this point until the trial constitute the discovery phase in a personal injury lawsuit.


Types of Discovery


  • Requests for Admission: In this type, one party presents a series of allegations/facts to the other party and requests them to admit or deny each allegation. This type of discovery is intended to save the court and the parties involved valuable time by avoiding the need for unnecessary litigation of facts that are not contested. If one of the parties admits certain facts, then that admission can be presented as fact during the trial.
  •  Request for Documents: In this type of discovery, one party is allowed to access and make copies of another person’s records and other relevant items. During this discovery, actual evidence is provided to the other party following a request for the same. However, the party may object to the request, or provide the required copies, or allow the other party to review the concerned documents and make their own copies of the same. The documents requested may include the following:


o  Medical records, treating physicians’ notes, other treatment records

o  Medical bills

o  Reports of damage

o  Employment records showing the time lost from work

o  Police/accident reports

o  Pictures/videos of the accident scene and the injuries


  • Depositions: These are sworn testimony under oath in a location, not necessarily at the court house. A court reporter will be present to take down what is said from the perspective of the claimant. The defense attorney takes the claimant’s deposition by asking a series of questions that are being recorded and under oath. Depositions can be taken from other people/witnesses who are subpoenaed to provide information that is relevant to the case.Depositions can be oral as mentioned above, or written if the party is not available as for example, if they are located outside of the country.
  • Interrogatories: These are a set of questions that one party provides to the other party with a request to answer the questions as exhaustively as possible. Interrogatories can be used to establish basic information necessary for the case. Typically, interrogatories contain questions related to contact information, identity of witnesses who will be called to provide testimony, identity of expert witnesses who may be requested to provide testimony, insurance coverage details, explanation regarding how the accident occurred, questions regarding evidence that will be used in the case, details of other parties who may share responsibility in the case, information regarding the medical services or treatment received by the plaintiff, lost wages, and other losses.
  • Physical and mental examinations: Sometimes, a person’s physical or mental state may be relevant to the personal injury case. Then the other party may want to have the person examined by a qualified medical practitioner. However, since this type of discovery involves stringent medical privacy laws and sensitive health data, a court order is required to proceed with it.
  • Inspection of property: If the accident that led to the injury took place in a particular property or site, the party may request that the owner allows them to examine the property.


Importance of Medical Peer Review


As mentioned at the beginning, medical examinations and medical records are important components of the discovery phase in personal injury litigation. Medical records are required to prove that the plaintiff was injured and also understand the extent of injury. The other party would need documentation related to the plaintiff’s post-accident treatment, medical exams, diagnoses, and so on. The defense side comprising the insurer/other defendants might request a medical peer review to ensure that the claim is a valid one. This peer review comprises a medical expert’s analysis of the plaintiff’s medical records and other relevant documentation. The peer review physician may also review deposition transcription, photographs available, and interrogatory answers among others. Here, the plaintiff is not being examined directly as in a defense medical exam. Therefore, peer reviews need not be typically disclosed unless the party wishes to use that peer review expert as a witness in their case.

As providers of medical review solutions to personal injury attorneys, MOS (Managed Outsource Solutions) knows that good discovery is very important when it comes to getting the information needed for a personal injury claim. Since such claims involve injury and trauma, and consequent damages, medical records and their review become indispensable and are key to the proper development and presentation of the case.