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How to Prepare for Discovery in a Maryland Injury Case

A common misconception of the judicial process is that evidence is some big secret. In reality, both sides of a lawsuit know about all the evidence the other side will present way ahead of time. This disclosure of evidence is required as part of the discovery process.

The discovery phase of a lawsuit is when the defendant and plaintiff must exchange all relevant information and evidence with each other. There is almost no such thing as a “surprise witness.” For the most part, anything you have that is relevant to the case must be exchanged. This includes evidence that both helps and hurts your case. However, there are various exceptions that might allow you to keep certain information private. For example, only relevant evidence is discoverable. If the opposing party wants private details from you that are simply irrelevant to the case, we should not have to provide that information. If you want evidence from the defendant but they refuse to comply, we can seek an order from the court compelling discovery.

Call our Maryland personal injury attorneys of Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to get a free, private evaluation of your claims.

How the Discovery Process Works in Maryland Personal Injury Cases

The discovery process happens long before a trial. People often think that each side must prepare their own evidence without telling the other side anything. Presenting evidence that your opponent does not know about, sometimes called “trial by ambush,” is a largely fictional concept perpetuated by television and movies. In reality, each side must disclose all their evidence to each other during the discovery phase. If information is withheld, there might be some serious trouble down the line.

Discovery methods are laid out under Md. R. Civ. Pro. Cir. Ct. § 2-401(a). Under this rule, discovery may occur under a variety of methods and circumstances. Our Baltimore personal injury attorneys may request depositions of witnesses. A deposition is like an interview or question-and-answer session between attorneys and witnesses where the witness is under oath even though the deposition occurs outside of court. The parties may also send interrogatories, which are written questions that must be answered. Unlike a deposition, interrogatories are not necessarily conducted face-to-face.

The parties can also demand the exchange of documents and tangible objects that are relevant to the case. This might include written records from an accident, hospital records, or even texts and emails.

Discovery can also include examinations by medical professionals. If injuries or mental health issues are disputed, the parties can request physical and mental health evaluation by qualified doctors or mental health professionals.

When and How Discovery Occurs in a Maryland Personal Injury Case

Under the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure, the timing and methods of the discovery process are largely worked out between the plaintiff and defendant and their attorneys. While the court may oversee the discovery process, the parties themselves generally take the lead.

Discovery does not usually happen all at once. The parties do not walk into court one day with boxes and boxes of documents that they slide across a table to each other. Discovery often takes some time. Depending on the complexity of your case and what kind of information is being exchanged, the discovery process might take weeks or even months to complete. The court may intervene if the process is dragging or if one party seems to be stalling.

Usually, the parties devise a plan for discovery that might include a schedule for when certain information should be exchanged. This might also include dates for interviews, depositions, and interrogatories.

What Kind of Information Do I Have to Disclose During Discovery in a Maryland Injury Case?

A big part of preparing for the discovery process is determining what kind of information falls within the scope of discovery. Remember, the scope of discovery is very wide, and most evidence within your control will likely have to be disclosed. However, there are certain limitations on evidence or information that is privileged or not readily available.

Discoverable Evidence

Generally, anything reasonably relevant to the case may be subject to discovery under Md. R. Civ. Pro. Cir. Ct. § 2-402(a). Even if the evidence being sought is inadmissible, it may still be discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence. Even information you feel is private, like emails or phone records, might be subject to discovery.

When evidence falls within the scope of the discovery, it must be turned over to the opposing party. Refusal to disclose discoverable evidence may lead to serious problems and sanctions from the court. Talk to your lawyer if you believe some evidence should not be disclosed.

Limitations on Discovery

Certain information is more protected and not always subject to discovery. One example is a work product. A work product usually refers to a lawyer’s work, notes, and preparations made for your trial. This kind of information is usually protected because it contains details about your lawyer’s legal strategies. The opposing party may obtain your attorney’s work product only if they can prove it is relevant, they have a substantial need for it, and they cannot find similar evidence without facing undue hardship.

There are also limitations on the discovery of privileged information like medical records. Privileged information is private by law. For example, your doctor is legally forbidden from disclosing your medical information without your consent. If the opposing party wants access to privileged information, we can withhold it. However, the opposing party might take the issue to the judge, and the judge may assess whether the information should be disclosed.

Speak to Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys About How to Prepare for the Discovery Process

Call our Woodlawn, MD personal injury attorneys of Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to get a free, private evaluation of your claims.