Successful insurance defense is oftentimes predicated on ample, thorough, and effective preparation. There are many aspects to preparing your insurance defense, and each one has to be diligently approached if you hope to maximize your chances of protecting your interests. That’s why you need to know about the discovery process and how to use it to your advantage.
The basics of discovery
If your insurance company has faced a number of lawsuits in the past, then you’re well aware of the intricacies of the discovery process. If you’re new to insurance litigation, though, then the process might seem confusing. Regardless of your experience in this realm, this week we hope that by taking a closer look at discovery you’ll gain a better understanding of what you can expect moving forward.
- Depositions: A deposition is the process of taking sworn testimony outside of court and prior to trial. It can be a great tool to learn what a witness knows and to pin him or her down on his or her testimony so that you can point out any trial testimony that may be inconsistent. That said, recognize that while it’s important that you depose the plaintiff and his or her witnesses, your witnesses will need to be prepared to be deposed. So, you’ll need to adequately prepare to offensively use this discovery tool while also preparing to defend against its use.
- Requests for production and subpoenas duces tecum: These legal demands ask for pertinent documents. They are oftentimes overbroad when sent to your insurance company, requesting everything in your possession. But you have certain protections that can shield certain documents from disclosure. Also, you can use these requests to learn more about witnesses, how they might testify, and the strategy that the plaintiff is going to use.
- Requests for admissions: These documents ask that the other side admit to certain relevant facts. If the party denies the allegation contained in the request for admission and you prove that fact, then sanctions may be imposed against that party. Also, when a request for admission goes unanswered, the allegations contained within the request are deemed admitted. Using requests for admissions can be a great way to streamline litigation so that you know where you need to focus your efforts.
Be prepared to defend yourself as fully as possible
Recognize that even outside of discovery, there are a whole host of pretrial maneuvers that you might be able to utilize to your advantage. Motions for summary judgment can ask for a ruling in your favor as a matter of law, meaning that even if the facts as alleged are true you still wouldn’t be held liable, and motions to dismiss based on the running of the statute of limitations can help you escape liability.
There may be instances when you can file a motion to have evidence excluded, and you need to research witnesses so that you understand their backgrounds and know how to attack their reliability. This is especially true when it comes to expert witnesses.
The key is that you need to know the intricacies of the law and how to navigate them to your advantage. That’s not always easy to do, especially when the evidence seems stacked against you. But by handling your defense in an incompetent manner, you risk facing liability and a large judgment, not to mention damage to your company’s reputation. So, if you’d like to protect your interests as fully as possible, then now may be the time to seek out the assistance you need to protect your interests.