The Role Discovery Plays in a Colorado Personal Injury Case
As a personal injury case proceeds, time passes, and if the time since the accident occurred gets close to the statute of limitations, your attorney will need to file your case in court. The statute of limitations for Colorado car accidents is three years from the date of injuries sustained. He or she must do so before the deadline passes in order to preserve your right to pursue recovery for your damages. At that point, a process called discovery will officially begin.
What is discovery?
Discovery is the process in which written, oral, and electronic information about a case is exchanged outside the courtroom between the litigation parties. The information passed back and forth during discovery is usually fairly broad, and might include:
- Facts concerning the case
- Witness information
- Case-related documents, including accident reports, medical bills, insurance policies, and photographs
- Wage reports
- Electronic information pertaining to the case, such as e-mails, social media posts, voicemail, and calendar files.
Discovery typically takes on several forms, including:
- Initial disclosures. The first step in the discovery process requires each party to turn over some basic information to the other party, including names and contact information of anyone who might have discoverable information pertaining to the lawsuit, a listing of all documents relevant to the claims being made, a description of the damages sought, and any insurance agreements making a party potentially liable for part or all of the damages sustained.
- Interrogatories. A list of written questions that one party asks the other (and vice versa) to be answered and potentially used in court, should the case fail to settle and proceed to trial. The court sets the number of interrogatories permitted, and rules vary according to jurisdiction.
- Requests for Production of Documents. Physical evidence that the parties are asked to provide to one another, including medical bills, employment reports, contracts, and school records. In September 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted a revised version of Civil Procedure Rule 16.1 and limited the number of requests for production served by each party to five.
- Depositions. Face-to-face questioning of a party or witness under oath but outside the courtroom. The sworn testimony from a deposition is admissible for later use in court. The September 2018 revision of the state’s simplified civil procedure rule also limited deposition discovery to six hours total.
- Requests for Admission. A set of statements sent from one party to another for the purpose of getting the party to admit or deny the statements or allegations being made in the request. Parties to a Colorado lawsuit generally have 35 days to respond to a request for admissions.
Limits on the Scope of Discovery
But just because a party asks for the information doesn’t necessarily mean that they are entitled to it. Under Colorado law, no information exchanged between certain parties, such as husband and wife, attorney and client, or doctor and patient, can be required to be divulged. Courts also often limit how much can be discovered about someone who isn’t a party to the lawsuit, since a person who didn’t file the lawsuit shouldn’t be unnecessarily burdened by it.
Do you have more questions about how discovery might impact your Colorado personal injury case? To obtain competent legal advice from a skilled attorney, contact Dan Rosen for a free consultation.