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Discovery - Investigating Your Case
The process by which you formally investigate the other party during litigation is known as discovery. The tools and techniques employed during this stage will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s arguments as well as the evidence upon which their arguments rest. Some of the most common discovery tools are described below with examples following their descriptions.
Interrogatories are written questions drafted by one party and required to be answered by the other. A party can only draft and demand answers to 30 interrogatories and this includes sub-parts unless the parties themselves or the court on its own decides there should be more. Those drafting interrogatories must send copies to all parties entitled to notice. The Supreme Court of Illinois had approved draft forms of interrogatories for various types of cases including motor vehicles accidents and medical malpractice. For more information, see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213. Here are some sample interrogatories:
Interrogatories 1 – Model interrogatories for motor vehicle accident cases.
Interrogatories 2 – Sample interrogatories with answers from a MVA case.
Interrogatories 3 – Sample 213f interrogatories with answers from a MVA case.
Interrogatories 4 - Sample interrogatories with answers from a MVA case.
Interrogatories 5 - Sample lay and expert witness interrogatories with answers from a MVA case.
Depositions allow parties to orally examine opposing parties or witnesses for general discovery purposes. However, they can also be for evidentiary purposes to be later used for trial but if a distinction is not made they are assumed to be for discovery. To depose a party, one must only give that party notice but to depose a witness, one must obtain a subpoena. The party deposing the other party or witness must pay all fees related to the deposition. They can only last three hours and may be recorded or conducted remotely. For more information, see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 202-207 and 210. Here are some sample depositions:
Deposition 1 – Sample deposition of an expert physician witness in a MVA case.
Deposition 2 – Sample deposition of a lay witness in a MVA case.
Deposition 3 – Sample deposition of an expert surgeon witness in a MVA case.
- Requests to Produce
According to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 214, parties can request other parties to produce documents, objects, other tangible things, access to real estate for inspection, or even information related to these things if they are relevant to the underlying subject matter of the case. The party making the requests for production can specify a time when it is due but it cannot be less than 28 days. At that time, the requested party must produce the item, access, or information in the manner in which it is normally kept and must “seasonably supplement” the production to the extent possible. The party requesting production must give notice to all parties entitled of the requests actually served. Below is a sample request for production:
Request for Production 1 – Model request for production in MVA case.
- Requests to Admit
One very useful tool that plaintiffs’ lawyers use in automobile accident litigation to narrow the scope of cases is a request for admission. Requests to admit ask the opposing party to admit facts are true or documents are genuine with respect to the case. Including all sub-parts, only 30 requests to admit are allowed unless the court or parties agree to a different number. However, if the party given the requests to admit does not admit, deny, or object to a particular request in 28 days then that request is deemed to be true. For more information on requests to admit, see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216.