If you have a personal injury case, you may be required to attend an examination for discovery. A brief overview of what an examination for discovery entails is provided here, however your lawyer will review the procedure in advance, and the purpose and importance of this meeting for your case.
What is an Examination for Discovery?
An examination for discovery is a formal pre-trial procedure that entails oral examination under oath of a party to an action, conducted by another party “adverse in interest,” documented by a court reporter.
The purpose of an examination for discovery is to enable both parties to exchange vital information about the case; this allows both parties to have all the information needed for a trial. It provides a preview of oral and documentary evidence for the trial and commits an opposing witness to his or her testimony. Most importantly, discovery fixes and narrows the matters in issue for the litigation.
Who is Examined?
An individual person, such as the defendant driver and plaintiff driver in a motor vehicle accident action can be examined. A party can include a corporation, partnership, a minor, the litigation guardian or committee of a mentally incompetent person or ICBC as a nominal defendant to the proceedings in place of an unknown or unidentified motorist. A surviving spouse may be examined in a family compensation action.
When, Where and for How Long does an Examination for Discovery Occur?
The examination for discovery occurs after a personal injury claim is filed with the court and at least 14 days before a scheduled trial date. It takes place in a meeting room instead of a courtroom, within 30 kms of the registry that is nearest to the place where the person to be examined resides unless the parties consent or the court orders otherwise. A judge is not present and the meeting is closed to the public. The only people present are the parties, their lawyers and a court reporter. There is a degree of formality that is required as it is part of the court process. The total time for the procedure is no longer than seven (7) hours, although this limit may be extended by court order or by consent.
What Information is Requested?
A broad range of open-ended and leading questions will be asked related to a plaintiff’s understanding about what happened, the injuries sustained and how he or she is faring with the injuries. Questions can be expected about the plaintiff’s personal information, the vehicles involved, accident, injuries sustained by the plaintiff, practical consequences of the injuries, plaintiff’s medical history, treatment, potential defendants, damages, other charges and claims, and credibility. The examining party is entitled to ask questions about any matter within the examined party’s knowledge if they relate to the matter arising in the action.
Certain questions in an examination for discovery are objectionable and legal counsel for a party will guide the process about what questions to answer and what questions not to answer.
In addition to oral examination, various documentation or other evidence is commonly requested, such as the medical examination report(s), the plaintiff’s, defendant’s and witness statements, adjuster’s reports and file notes, diary entries of injury symptoms, clinical notes of treating medical and counselling practitioners, any photographs from the plaintiff, and any video surveillance of the plaintiff.
Other typical requests may include:
Why is an Examination for Discovery Important for Your Case?
As part of gathering evidence for a potential trial, each party’s lawyer is seeking to evaluate the strength of the case based on the facts provided and witness credibility. A witness’ credibility may be discredited if his or her oral statement changes from what was claimed initially or important details are missed, or if the injuries were found to be exaggerated. It is only when each party has the full discovery of the opposing party’s case that they can reach a settlement expediently and inexpensively without involving the court.
If you have any more questions about the examination for discovery phase of a personal injury claim, call the Bronson Jones & Company LLP in Vancouver, British Columbia. We are lawyers who handle motor vehicle accident personal injury cases in Vancouver, and cities across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. We have extensive knowledge to draw from, specializing as a plaintiff-only personal injury motor vehicle accident law firm. Call us at Bronson Jones & Company LLP today.