February 16, 2019
Knowing the Rules of Discovery in Michigan
When a victim of someone else’s negligence files a lawsuit, there are specific rules and phases that every lawsuit must generally follow. The first step in the process is the filing of the Complaint. Next, one must serve the Complaint on the named Defendants or their agents. From there, the Michigan Court Rules and the Scheduling Order issued by the judge assigned to the claim control what the parties can do and when they can be done. The parameters change depending on case type, the attorneys, the assigned judge and the Court in which the lawsuit is pending; however, in almost every case, the initial phase of the lawsuit once all of the parties are served is called “Discovery”.
What is the Discovery Phase?
In the Discovery phase, the parties are allowed to gain information through several different means. In Michigan, parties are allowed to serve written questions on the opposing parties called Interrogatories. Interrogatories seek information from the other party. This information can be as basic as their name, address and where they went to high school, or it can be case specific; such as asking for their version of the facts surrounding the accident, whether they have certain health conditions or even if they have any felony or misdemeanor convictions in the past. Interrogatories are the most basic and common form of discovery.
Other forms of discovery focus on gathering documents or entry upon land to inspect certain relevant objects. This can be done by serving what is commonly referred to as a Request for Production on the opposing party, or it can be done with a subpoena to either the opposing party or even to a nonparty that may be in possession of relevant information. In Michigan No-Fault claims or motor vehicle accident claims, documents such as insurance policies, medical bills, and documents generated by the insurance company are frequently requested and can be integral parts of the claims.
What may be considered the most important discovery tool is the right to conduct depositions. A deposition is the ability to question the opposing party, witness, medical doctor or anyone with knowledge of the facts under oath. Skilled attorneys craft deposition questions to elicit beneficial testimony out of the deponent while avoiding testimony that would be detrimental to their own client. Since deposition testimony is under oath, if the matter proceeds to trial, and the deponent provides a conflicting response to the same question previously act, the deponent is considered to perjure themselves. Therefore, when providing answers to questions in depositions, it is important to take your time, think about the question asked and give an accurate and concise answer. If you do not know the answer, or cannot remember at that time, never guess. Never feel as though you cannot say “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” because guessing for the sake of providing an answer can have grave consequences.
How We Can Help
Here at the Elia & Ponto law firm, we are dedicated to helping anyone who has been injured by a motor vehicle accident. A Michigan car accident lawyer at our firm will be dedicated to showing you how to file a Michigan car accident lawsuit and a claim for Michigan No-fault benefits. Even if you were hit by a drunk driver, or a Michigan Hit and Run accident, speaking with a car accident lawyer at our firm can be a valuable resource for you and your loved one!