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Discovery is the legal process in which parties exchange records and information – and seek records and information from nonparties – that could lead to evidence at trial. 

 

You should cooperate with your attorney and provide all records and information requested in discovery.  The attorney can decide if any information or records are legally protected and should be withheld.

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1)  What is discovery?

 

Discovery starts as soon as the defendant files an Answer to your Complaint.

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2)  When does discovery start?

 

In Georgia, discovery typically lasts six months from the date that the defendant files an Answer to your Complaint. 

 

This period is often extended by the parties or the court if the case involves complex issues or there are unforeseen delays.

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3)  How long does discovery last?

 

Discovery can take a long time for several reasons. 

 

First, there are certain time periods each party is afforded to respond to written discovery.  Discovery disputes for these written requests can take even more time to resolve. 

 

Also, it can be difficult to coordinate schedules on certain discovery items, such as depositions or inspections.  Even when the parties and their attorneys' schedules do not conflict, it can be difficult to coordinate with the court's busy schedule.

 

Finally, common conflicts during the year, such as national holidays or school schedules can interrupt the discovery process.

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4)  Why does discovery take so long?

 

Interrogatories are a discovery tool that the parties can use to have specific questions answered under oath and before trial.  

 

Interrogatories are itemized questions sent to the other party that he must respond to in writing. 

 

Interrogatories response are important because they are provided under oath and admissible evidence.  Parties use Interrogatories to help focus and narrow the issues for trial.

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5)  What are Interrogatories and why are they so important?

 

Requests for Production are written demands, usually requiring the responding party to produce copies of documents or records he possesses or can readily obtain. 

 

They are used to discover potential evidence for use at trial, favorable or unfavorable, as well as identify records that could lead to other admissible evidence. 

 

You should cooperate with your attorney and provide all records and information requested in discovery.  The attorney can decide if any information or records are legally protected and should be withheld.

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6)  What are Requests for Production of documents?

 

A defendant and his attorney could be requesting your employment records for multiple reasons. 

 

Most often, the defendant is seeking evidence related to claims of lost wages.  The attorney may also be seeking information regarding your medical history that may be noted in your employment records.

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7)  Why is the defendant requesting my employment records?

 

Any party to a case involving an automobile collision should willingly disclose their driving history when requested. 

 

Regardless, this information can be obtained from the Department of Driver Services in a nonparty subpoena. 

 

You should not withhold any information, such as driving history or even criminal history, from your attorney.

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8)  Do I need to disclose my driving history?

 

As a starting point, communications between a patient and mental health professional are privileged and not discoverable. 

 

This is true even if the injured plaintiff asserts claims for mental anguish due to the personal injury.

 

However, you can expect the defense attorney to argue that the injured plaintiff "opened the door" by making his or her mental health an issue in the case by claiming mental or emotional damages.  This is not true, and the client requires skilled advocacy by an experienced attorney to protect the client from harassing discovery, calculated to embarrass.

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9)  Do I need to disclose my mental health records?

 

Most likely, your criminal history is being sought - and is relevant - to address any questions regarding your ability to be truthful. 

 

This type of evidence is called impeachment evidence. 

 

For example, if you have a prior conviction for tax evasion and/or fraud, this may be evidence used to suggest you are not a trustworthy person.  It's true that these charges are not directly relevant to you claims for personal injury - i.e. proving liability and damages.  But, this does not mean they are not legally relevant. 

It is very important that you are candid with your attorney and that you disclose your complete criminal history.  An experienced attorney can prepare to exclude these records from trial and mitigate any attacks on your character.  And, an experienced defense attorney will likely discover your criminal history even if you try to conceal it.

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10)  How is my criminal history relevant to my case?

 
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