After your attorney files a Complaint against a negligent healthcare provider, your case will soon enter a phase of litigation called “Discovery.” Discovery has two separate phases: “fact discovery” and “expert discovery.” Fact discovery is a period of time during which the parties are entitled to an exchange of information about the case. During this period, attorneys, utilizing procedural mechanisms provided by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, compel the opposing party to disclose information and give sworn testimony. Because most medical malpractice cases are “tier 3” cases, standard fact discovery will usually last a minimum of 210 days. Often this period is extended because the parties need more time.
The methods of discovery include, but are not limited to, interrogatories, requests to produce documentation, medical examinations, requests to admit, and depositions. Good attorneys are skilled in strategically using these methods of discovery in a manner that helps you obtain the most important and most relevant information.
It is extremely important that you work with your attorney to ensure that all of the information requested is gathered and disclosed. Failure to turn over evidence will prevent its use at trial. In extreme cases, it can result in dismissal of your case. Cooperation will also help your attorney to help build the strongest case possible.
The defendant’s attorney will almost always seek to depose you. We cannot avoid this. During a deposition, you will be placed under oath, and the defense attorney will be able to compel you to answer questions. Your attorney will help you prepare for the deposition and will sit by your side during the deposition to make certain that none of the questions are not permitted by law, and to otherwise help you through the process. Depositions often cause the most anxiety for injured persons. Having a good attorney, and adequately preparing, can help tremendously.
After fact discovery, expert discovery begins. You will likely not be as involved during this portion of litigation. In complex medical malpractice cases, your attorney will have retained expert witnesses to help substantiate your claims. The defendant’s attorney will have done the same. Expert discovery is the period of time during which the parties exchange information about what the experts will say. This exchange usually occurs by deposing the experts. Expert discovery in complex cases can last several months.
Once both stages of discovery are complete, the Court will set a trial date. At G. Eric Nielson & Associates, we are well versed in both fact discovery and expert discovery. We have a panel of the nation’s top experts that assist us with our cases. We will be there to assist you in every step of your case. Call us today for a free consultation if you feel that you have been a victim of medical negligence or malpractice.