This is the next post in a series of articles discussing bicycle accident cases in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article discussed the process of dealing with insurance companies following such an event. When contacted by an insurance adjuster after a serious crash, many accident victims do not know how to respond. Once you are represented by counsel, your attorney can handle all communications with the adjuster on your behalf. Doing so can help ensure that all settlement offers are fairly evaluated and prevent victims from accepting “low ball” offers. In this article, I will address an important element of bike crash litigation – the discovery process. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Discovery is the process used by attorneys to gather evidence to be used during a trial. Your lawyer will have a variety of tools available to them for conducting discovery and may use them to obtain information from the other party involved in the dispute or third-party sources. These include issuing written questions, called interrogatories, to which the recipient must reply in writing and the answers to which may be used in court documents and at trial. Witness testimony may be obtained before a trial during depositions. The statements provided during deposition questioning are made under oath and recorded in a transcript that may also be used during the trial. Other discovery methods include requests for production or subpoenas, which require the recipients to share the requested documentation or records, such as camera footage, cell phone or text message reports, or other relevant information.
Understanding the rules of evidence and using discovery to build one’s case is an extremely important part of any legal case and can be particularly powerful in bicycle accident litigation. Consider the following example. A cyclist suffers a serious head injury in an accident with a semi-truck. The accident occurred in an isolated area with no witnesses. The truck driver was cited by the police but claims that the cyclist bore significant responsibility for the accident because he was swerving at the time of the crash. Unfortunately, the victim’s injuries prevent him from providing information about the accident. The victim’s attorney, using the discovery process, gathers footage from a nearby resident’s security cameras, GPS data from each party’s phone, and an expert witness who reconstructs the accident and provides deposition testimony. Using this information he disputes the truck driver’s claim that the cyclist was partially responsible for the crash. Such evidence may be enough to prevent the defendant from avoiding liability under a comparative fault theory. How the Court will rule in any case will depend upon the specific facts of each situation.
Unlike courtroom dramas portrayed by Hollywood, trials do not involve surprise evidence or last-minute revelations. Evidence is methodically gathered in advance through discovery and must be presented to the Court in compliance with strictly enforced legal rules. An experienced attorney will understand the discovery process and how to use the tools to build your case. If you need assistance contact my Peoria office today. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.