In our previous post, we began looking at a bill that was recently struck down by New York lawmakers which would have extended the statute of limitations for medical malpractice patients. As we noted, the benefit of the bill for patients is that it would have leveled the playing field between patients and providers in terms of timing for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Leveling the playing field when it comes to access to information and evidence is one of the primary goals of the discovery process in civil litigation. For patients who are able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations and who have a meritorious claim, discovery gives them the ability to make use of the power of the court to reach information to which they do not have access and to use that information as evidence to build a strong malpractice case.
Discovery is a fact-finding process which makes several tools available to both parties. Written discovery includes interrogatories and requests for admission. Respectively, these are questions which require a response regarding a party’s version of the facts and of the claims, and requests for a party to admit or deny certain facts in the case.
Discovery also typically involves requests for the production of documents, which can be copious in medical malpractice cases. Depositions, or sworn statements in response to questions, are also often used in the discovery process.
Successfully navigating the discovery process and making full use of the tools available is not always easy, particularly in complex cases, and it is critical to work with a legal advocate who has experienced with the process and who can help a patient make the most of the opportunities it presents.