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Understanding the discovery phase of a civil trial

A lawsuit can be a disruption to your life and your business. If you have never experienced this legal process, you may have concerns about what to expect. Whether you are on the plaintiff's side or you are defending yourself against accusations, you can expect times of stress and frustration as you work toward a resolution.

Your lawsuit may involve business dealings such as contract breaches, a real estate dispute or a personal injury claims, and you want the best chances of success. A critical element in the success of a lawsuit is preparation, and this begins with the discovery phase of the claim. You and your attorney may spend many weeks or months in the discovery phase, and it is important that you cooperate with the process.

What is discovery?

Just as its name suggests, the discovery phase of any case, whether criminal or civil, is all about finding information. Unlike TV shows where the attorneys or witnesses make dramatic revelations in the courtroom, in real life, both sides of a litigation already know most of the facts of the case. In fact, it is illegal for one side to withhold critical evidence or information from the other. The sharing of this information happens in the discovery phase.

While you may think it is a better strategy to hold back the smoking gun evidence you may have, you are presumed to be under oath, so you must be completely truthful. Besides, you do not know what information the other side holds that may dispute your evidence. Sharing the evidence allows both sides a fair chance to build a case based on the facts.

What information do we share?

Your opponent may dispute some of the details you share. However, it is likely you will agree on many of the facts, and that will help expedite the process since you won't have to prove those items in court. To obtain as much information as possible, you and the other side will have the right to the following:

  • Documents, including medical records and police reports
  • Communications, including text messages, emails and memos
  • Details your witnesses will share, obtained through a deposition or by completing an interrogatory form
  • Information any experts can add, also given in a deposition

In many cases, after learning in the discovery phase the level of evidence from both sides, the parties in a lawsuit may decide to discuss a settlement agreement rather than going to trial. Your Texas attorney will advise you if this is in your best interests, but it is important to have representation who is willing to take your case to trial and will not rush you to settle.

 

 

 

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329 South Guadalupe Street
San Marcos, TX 78666

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