What’s an Examination for Discovery?
This is an opportunity for the lawyer for the insurance company to ask you all sorts of questions, while under oath, about your accident case.
It’s called an Examination for Discovery because the purpose of the exercise is to “discover” more about you, your injuries, the accident, and your case.
It’s the first, and likely the only time that the lawyer for the insurance company will get to meet with you, face to face, and ask you questions under oath. It’s important to make a good impression at discovery. Why you ask? Well, if you don’t present well, or if you don’t come off as a likeable, credible, or geniune person, then it’s likely the lawyer for the insurance company will report this back to his principals. They will likely devalue your case, or make it a more difficult one to settle.
Insurance companies do NOT like paying out money for your claims. The more money which they pay out in claims, the less money they have to report in profits for their shareholders. If there’s one thing which insurers hate more than paying out money on a claim, it’s paying out money to a person who they percieve to be a liar, a faker, a cheater, or a malingerer.
What it comes down to, is if you come off as a likeable, credible and genuine individual who truly deserves compensation for their injuries, you will get a fair settlement. If you come off as a liar, a faker, or a cheater, then you’re in for a long and bumpy ride.
Where do Examinations for Discovery take place?
Discoveries can take place in a board room of a law firm, in a hotel board room, or at a Court Reporter/Examiner’s office. Our London and Toronto offices host Examinations for Discovery frequently. RIght across the street from our Toronto Office is the office of Network North Court Reporters, which has gotta be one of Toronto’s busiest places for Examinations for Discovery. In the same building as our Peterborough Office is Taylor Court Reporting, which is Peterborough’s busiest reporting centre. A 5 minute walk from our London office is London Verbatim Reporting Services, which is London’s only examiner’s office. So, as you can see, discoveries can take place in all sorts of locations.
What should I wear to my Examination for Discovery?
Our lawyers tell people to dress as they normally would, but no ripped jeans, or crazy rock n’ roll or drug paraphenalia t-shirts. Basically, don’t wear anything offensive or that you would think others would take offense to. At the same time, there’s no reason for you to attend in complete formal wear. That would be silly. A discovery can last the good part of a day, or even two. So, it’s important that you dress comfortably.
How long will my discovery go?
The length of your Examination for Discovery really depends on a lot of factors. It depends on the lawyer for the insurance company. How fast or slow are they proceeding. It depends on how you answer questions. Are you answering questions in a round a bout way that’s difficult to understand, or are your answers concise, clear and easy to follow. It depends on the nature of your injuries and the nature of your accident. Are you injuries complicated or are they relatively straight forward. The same question applies to how the accident happened, or how your injury came to be. Often, answers to these questions are not simple. Hence, the discovery goes longer. But most importantly, it depends on you and how you’re feeling. Some people can stay focused for very long periods of time or get fatigued rather easily. As such, they require short, but frequent breaks. The more breaks that we take, the longer the discovery will likely go. Breaks are IMPORTANT to take. Sometimes, the discovery needs to get broken up over a period of days because the accident victim’s concentration is so impaired that back to back days is simply too much to handle. It all depends on the nature of your case, the injuires and the lawyer on the other side. There is no way of predicting how long a discovery will take.
Legal Tip: When a lawyer tells you that they should be done in an hour, multiply that hour by 3 or 5 to get a better time estimate. Anytime that a lawyer tells you that they will be short, you know that they will be long. Don’t believe me? Ask around.
Can we stop if I need to go to the bathroom, get tired, or have to grab a smoke?
Yes Yes & Yes to all the above! You’re not a prisoner at your Examination for Discovery. If you need a break, then we encourage you to take it. You want to be at your best and most alert for the discovery. The record doesn’t lie. And saying something bad on the record just for the sake of getting out of the room faster is a move which you’ll regret in the long run.
What happens if I don’t remember something, or don’t know the answer?
There are only two correct answers during an Examination for Discovery.
The TRUTH is the first correct answer.
If you don’t remember the TRUTH, then don’t lie and don’t guess. Just say that you cannot remember.
Anything else will ruin your case.
Your case is legitimate. Your injuries are legitimate. So why are you telling a lie and why are you making things up? That makes no sense and will only hurt you in the long run.
Is everything said during a discovery recorded, and if so, then why?
Yes, everything said during an Examination for Discovery is recorded. It’s recorded so that we have a record of what you said, which can later be referred to at trial. We test the answers you gave on discovery compared to the answers which you gave at trial. If your answers contradict each other, then the Judge and Jury will have a reason not to believe what your saying. They will not think that you’re a credible witness and your testimony will be given less weight.
A lot of questions I’m asked aren’t about my accident. Why is that?
In many cases, liability (the accident) isn’t an issue. Driver A hit Driver B. Driver A is at fault. Now, the insurance company wants to better understand your injuries and your damages. Most of the questions asked to you aren’t related to the accident, but they will tie in to your damages claim. Understanding how the laws of damages works is very complicated and often difficult for accident victims to understand. These laws cannot be boiled down in to a simple Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post. There are entire books written just on the laws of damages. Ontario’s Insurance Act has been amended countless times to change how damages work in this province. Got a question about how damages work? Then give me a call.
Should I be nervous for my Examination for Discovery?
It’s completely NORMAL to get nervous before your Examination for Discovery. Just remember. Nobody knows you, or how the accident/injury has impacted you, better than yourself! Just be yourself. Tell the truth. Listen to the question and answer it as truthfully as you can. If you follow those simple rules, you’ll have nothing to worry or be nervous about.
And remember, once it’s done, it’s done! Notwithstanding trial, that will be the hardest part of your case.