What Is Discovery In An Alabama Medical Malpractice Case?
After a medical malpractice victim files a lawsuit, the work begins to build a case. And that case will require compelling evidence if the victim-plaintiff is to succeed. How does the plaintiff obtain this evidence? While he or she likely possesses some proof of the defendant’s wrongdoing at the start of the lawsuit, more will be needed. Discovery is the process by which the plaintiff obtains the evidence necessary to convince a jury.
Discovery is complicated, and both plaintiffs and defendants get to use it. There are various tools available as well as possible objections and court involvement. Having experienced Alabama medical malpractice counsel will be essential to making discovery work for you. The malpractice lawyers of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton are ready to help.
Discovery: what is it, and why does it matter?
When you file your medical malpractice action, you almost certainly won’t have all the evidence needed to win. It is not the role of the court to obtain this evidence for you. Rather, you and your attorney must acquire the proof needed to demonstrate that malpractice occurred. Discovery is the formal process through which parties exchange evidence that is relevant to the case.
This phase of litigation is critical to getting the evidence necessary to accomplish the following (among other goals):
- Formulate arguments and allegations, as well as refutations of the opposing party’s position
- Refine the issues that are in dispute between the parties
- Determine the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ respective positions in the case
- Calculate a monetary value of the case (meaning, what the lawsuit is worth in damages)
- Facilitate settlement negotiations
Who can use discovery?
All parties to a lawsuit can use the discovery process. That means, for instance, that both the plaintiff and defendant can submit requests to one another. There may be cases in which a party who has received requests objects to them. For example, the plaintiff may believe that the information sought by the defendant is not relevant to the case.
An objection like this is potentially valid. Discovery is not a means by which a party can find out literally anything it wants from someone else. The information being sought has to be relevant to the case, and the request must be narrowly tailored to that end. If a party objects to a request on this (or another) basis, the judge may have to step in. The judge could decide to compel the resisting party to answer.
The discovery tools that may be used
Attorneys on both sides have a number of tools they can use during discovery, including:
These are written requests for information that one party sends to another. The questions must be answered under oath, and the answers often lead to additional evidence.
Requests for production of documents
One party may ask another to produce relevant documents concerning the medical malpractice case. A basic example is the defendant requesting the plaintiff’s medical records.
Requests for admission
A request for admission asks a party to either admit or deny a certain statement. This is generally used to narrow the scope of the lawsuit. After all, if parties don’t disagree on certain facts, money and time won’t have to be spent litigating over them.
A witness gives oral testimony and is cross-examined under oath during a deposition. The testimony, which is usually in video or written form, is later admitted as evidence in court.
We’re Ready To Build A Strong Case For Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton has extensive experience with the often complex discovery rules surrounding medical malpractice lawsuits. We are ready to assist with both sending and responding to discovery requests. Once we obtain the evidence necessary through discovery, we will get to work assembling a case for you. If you’re a victim of medical malpractice, contact our team today.