This is the next post in a series of articles discussing trucking accident cases in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article explained why the process for resolving such a case can take a significant amount of time. Depending upon the facts of the case, the number of defendants involved, and the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim, investigations into the liability of the parties and calculating damages can become complicated. These steps are necessary, however, to ensure that victims receive the compensation to which they are entitled. Accepting a settlement offer without having all of the facts often leaves victims in a poor financial situation in the future without any ability for additional recourse. In this article we will discuss the importance of discovery in these types of matters. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Discovery is the process used by attorneys to gather facts and evidence about an accident from various parties involved in the case. Lawyers have various discovery tools available to them to obtain information. These include interrogatories, which are written questions submitted to other parties that must be answered in writing. Requests for production may be used to gather tangible objects such as documents, police reports, phone records, traffic camera footage, etc. Witnesses may be interviewed by attorneys while under oath in depositions that occur outside of the courtroom in front of a court reporter. Subpoenas can also be issued to compel the disclosure of records or witness testimony. Contrary to courtroom dramas on television, trials are not won with last minute “surprise” evidence. Rather, evidence is methodically collected by attorneys in advance through the discovery process.
Fact-finding through the discovery tools referenced above is an important part of any personal injury case and can be particularly significant in trucking accident settlement negotiations and litigation. For instance, as mentioned previously in this series, truck crash cases often involve multiple defendants. Establishing each party’s liability may require in-depth investigations into their respective roles. Requesting copies of a supervisor’s emails, for example, may reveal that the employee-driver was never properly trained. Reviewing the driver’s phone records may reveal that they were texting at the time the crash occurred. Furthermore, if the defense claims that the victim was partially responsible for the accident, evidence identified through the discovery process may disprove or mitigate that theory. For example, if the truck driver claims that the victim was swerving and crossed the center-line at the time of the crash, but several eyewitnesses provide testimony during depositions refuting that claim. Traffic camera footage requested by the attorney corroborates their stories. Based on the evidence gathered during discovery, the jury may determine that the victim was not partially at fault.
Attorneys must follow very specific rules when gathering and submitting evidence into court. These rules are strictly enforced. An experienced lawyer will understand how to navigate the discovery process and comply with the rules of evidence on your behalf. They will also have the skills necessary to explain complex factual scenarios and evidence to the jury. My office handles personal injury cases including trucking accident matters and is ready to assist you. If you or a loved one have been injured then contact our Peoria office today. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.