Disclosure is a routine part of any personal injury case, such as a car accident claim or nursing home abuse claim. It refers to the early exchange of documents between both parties—the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the insurance company).
Disclosure is part of the discovery process. Discovery is a period during which both sides work to discover any relevant evidence, including requesting documents from the other side. Disclosure makes the process easier because certain types of documents are automatically shared without any separate request.
An example of the types of documents the insurance company may have to disclose to you includes:
- Their records of statements you made
- Any medical history or “lookback” period they are relying on to dispute the cause of your injury
- Documents about the other driver in the accident
These documents can be physical, paper documents or they can be electronic data, including emails and even text messages.
The exact documents to be shared vary from case to case. Historically there were rules for “standard disclosure” that required both sides to share any documents they believed were relevant. Obviously, this was open to dispute. Today there are a variety of different disclosure rules, and the judge can decide which ones the parties should follow based on the type of case.
Your lawyer can also use the discovery process to request additional documents or evidence. However, if the other party is found not to have shared something they should have shared in disclosure—which will often become clear during trial—they can face heavy penalties.
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