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Discovery-Related Sanctions Can Be Serious

Once the pleading stage of your California personal injury case has passed – that is, after you have filed your complaint seeking compensation and the allegedly at-fault defendant has had an opportunity to respond - your case, assuming it has not been addressed through dispositive motions, will proceed to the discovery phase. The importance of the discovery phase and the discovery process as a whole cannot be overstated: It is during this process that each side gains access to the documents, evidence, and witnesses that the other side anticipates using to prove its claims at trial.

Discovery is Meant to Be an Informal Process

When the discovery process works as intended, courts provide little to no supervision of the exchange of information and evidence between the parties. Instead, the courts rely on each side to fulfill their statutory discovery obligations without much, if any, prompting from the court.

This is not to say that courts are not available during the discovery process. If one party believes the other party is not fulfilling his or her obligations and attempts to resolve the problem informally have failed, that party may request the court’s assistance in compelling the other party to participate in the discovery process. If the noncompliant party still refuses to participate, the court may sanction the noncompliant party in any one of a number of ways, including:

 Monetary fines or penalties;

Orders prohibiting the noncompliant party from introducing certain evidence at trial;

In some extreme cases, dismissal of the party’s lawsuit (if the noncompliant party is the plaintiff).

Abuse of Discretion Governs Discovery Sanctions

When a trial court enters a discovery-related sanction, the party against whom the sanction is entered is unlikely to receive much sympathy or assistance from appellate courts. This is because most appellate courts examine discovery-related sanctions entered by the trial courts under an “abuse of discretion” standard. This means that appellate courts will not reverse a trial court’s order entering a sanction (regardless of how severe) unless the decision to order the sanction was so fanciful or outrageous that no reasonable judge in the trial court’s position would have taken that course of action.

 Avoiding Discovery Problems Through Counsel

Of course, the better path in a personal injury lawsuit is to fulfill one’s discovery obligations in full without requiring the court’s involvement. While this may be an onerous burden for individuals who represent themselves, those who retain knowledgeable counsel like the California personal injury team of Heiting & Irwin can rest assured that the discovery process will be completed in a timely manner and without jeopardizing the success of their lawsuits.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a California personal injury accident, Heiting & Irwin would like to assist you in obtaining the compensation you need to begin your recovery. Contact Heiting & Irwin and schedule your free consultation today by calling (951) 682-6400, or reach out to the firm through its website for prompt assistance.

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Heiting & Irwin, APLC

Heiting & Irwin, APLC are some of the most well established and respected personal injury attorneys in Riverside County and throughout the Inland Empire. With 100+ years of combined experience we’ve earned a reputation with local attorneys and judges as smart negotiators, tough litigators and compassionate counsel to our client’s circumstances and needs. Our legal team has a track record of success which is second to none, and this helps us come into your case with the preparation of thousands of injury cases and over $300 Million in verdicts and settlements at our foundation.Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers in Riverside, CAJames Heiting is the only past President of... View full business profile here: Heiting & Irwin, APLC

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