As part of your lawsuit, you will likely have to attend a discovery hearing, sometimes known as an examination for discovery. This hearing occurs after you have provided your statement to the court of what happened and what damages you are seeking, the defendant has had a chance to respond, and both sides have exchanged lists of the relevant documents and evidence they have for the case. A discovery hearing exists to allow both sides to determine the other side’s case, collect statements that can be used during the trial, and decide whether the case should be taken to trial or if it can be resolved through negotiation. During the hearing, you will answer questions from the defense team, and your legal team will question the defendant and any involved witnesses. The judge will not be present at a discovery hearing, but it will be recorded by a court reporter.
What Questions Can You Expect at a Discovery Hearing?
During a discovery hearing, the defense is sizing up your case and trying to collect information from you that they can use during the trial. This can sound scary, but there’s no need to be concerned. Your legal team will coach you on handling the defense’s questioning so you will be prepared. Some of the areas that you may be questioned about include:
- Basic personal information, such as name, birth date, and address
- The circumstances of the incident named in the claim
- Your current employment and job history
- Treatment and care you have received after the incident
- Your medical history
- Your home life, hobbies, and activities, if applicable to the case
How Can You Prepare for a Discovery Hearing?
Your legal team will provide specific instructions for preparing for your hearing and questioning. It is essential to follow these instructions, so you feel confident and comfortable during your hearing. Your demeanor during your examination can sometimes have a positive impact on the outcome of your case. Some general tips to remember when preparing for a discovery hearing are:
- Be truthful: You are under oath, so your answers must be honest and precise.
- If you are unsure of an answer, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I do not remember”: This is better than guessing and potentially contradicting yourself.
- If a question is unclear, ask for it to be repeated or clarified: It’s vital to understand what you are being asked so that you can answer properly.
- Utilize your right to take breaks when you need to: If you need a moment to gather yourself, drink water, use the restroom, or anything else, you are within your rights to politely request a break.
- Be professional: Answer questions calmly. Do not interrupt or speak over the lawyers.
- Listen closely to the questions, take your time answering, and be deliberate with your answers: You only have to give direct answers to the questions asked. Resist the urge to provide more information than necessary or to talk more if there is an uncomfortable silence.
How Can Your Lawyer Help You With Your Hearing?
It can feel intimidating and uncomfortable to be questioned under oath, but your lawyer will be there before and during the hearing to ensure you are prepared and your rights are protected. There are certain questions your lawyer will object to if they are asked. These include questions that are not directly relevant to the case or would take too much work to answer because they are disproportionately detailed.
An experienced lawyer will help calm you and provide you with any documentation you need to familiarize yourself with before the hearing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Your lawyer is there to assist you during every step of your case. Contact our law office for more information if you have any further concerns about your discovery hearing.