Discovery is guided by the New Jersey Rules of Court. While there is no required order in which discovery is to proceed, discovery is typically broken down into paper discovery, depositions, experts, hearings/motions, Mediation and Arbitration.
Paper Discovery: Paper discovery includes interrogatories, demands for documents and admissions. Once the paper discovery is completed, depositions will proceed.
Depositions: A deposition process is where the opposing parties attorneys asks you questions, taken under oath, and with a court reporting.
Experts: The case will undoubtedly require obtaining records relating to medical treatment, or retaining experts, examinations and evaluations, testing and inspection of evidence. As part of discovery, you are often required to retain certain types of experts relating to liability, damages.
Hearings & Motions: During discovery disputes arise and the court will want to “move the case along” by meeting with the parties. Discovery disputes may include filing motions to require the other side to do, or not do, something. Many cases will also require a conference with the court where the Judge will meet with the parties to try to work through disputes or try to settle the case.
Mediation: In New Jersey certain matters, such as employment discrimination cases, are required to be sent to Court Ordered Mediation. Court Ordered Mediation is a non-binding tactic used by the court to bring the parties together to try to amicably resolve the dispute (aka, lawsuit) without enduring an expensive and lengthy litigation. Mediation is fee paid, which means the mediator is paid by the litigants. You are given 1 hour of the mediator’s free time before mediation and 1 hour of free time during mediation. You may opt-out of the court appointed mediator and choose your own mediator. The Mediation process is required to be completed during the discovery period, unless you request otherwise by filing a motion. During mediation, you have the power to settle or not, and you are not required to do so. A mediator does not assess liability or place value on a case, but is retained to facilitate a mutually agreeable settlement.
Arbitrations: In New Jersey certain matters, such as personal injury and contract disputes are referred to Court Ordered Arbitration. Arbitration is a binding tactic used by the courts in which the parties submit argument and evidence to support their claim or defense. During the process an arbitrator then decides if there is liability and what amount of money should be awarded to the Plaintiff. The matter is “binding” only insofar as the parties must request a trail (de novo) and set aside the Arbitrator’s order. If one or both of the parties file a “de novo” request, the matter is then set for trial.