The simple answer is yes, it can.
In a personal injury lawsuit in Ontario, the plaintiff and the Defendant serve the affidavit of documents to each other ahead of time (there are strict timelines that need to be adhered to in terms of timelines) and then both sides review all the documents and prepare for discoveries.
Each side prepares from their “affidavit of documents”. An affidavit of documents lists all of the documents that may provide information for the lawsuit. At all times throughout a lawsuit, both sides have an obligation to disclose all relevant documents. At times, other documents surface that may be relevant. In this instance , both parties have a duty to share that document with the other side and are able to submit it through the courts by preparing a “Supplementary Affidavit of Documents” .
It’s imperative that both sides be transparent in a lawsuit. If a document is not listed in the Affidavit of documents, the courts can decide that it is inadmissible and cannot be used. This could be detrimental to a case and may result in either side bot being treated fairly. Further to that, if the courts find that a party is intentionally hiding or burying a document to help their case, they can order the party to pay costs, or worse they can dismiss the lawsuit.
Experienced personal injury lawyers are very aware of all the timelines and rules surrounding Ontario lawsuits; so you need not worry about this. If you find that your injury lawyer has had to prepare a supplementary affidavit of document, don’t worry. This is not something that will be held against you or anything. It is a step that has been put in place for this exact situation.
Once all the proper documents have been submitted and both sides have prepared, the examination for discovery takes place. Typically, at this stage of a Ontario personal injury lawsuit, the lawyers then have the opportunity to ask the other side questions that clarify the facts and may help build their case. This is not an open-ended time frame. Each side has prescribed time frames that they generally need to stick to. Do not be nervous about this. You lawyer will help prepare you for this and will be present during the examination. If your lawyer feels that a question is inappropriate or something you shouldn’t answer, they will step in and you won’t have to answer. If the lawyer for the insurance company thinks the question is appropriate and still wants an answer , then they can file a motion to the court and the court may order the party to answer the question that was asked. If at any point in the examination for discovery you do not have the answer to the question being asked or a lawyer is requesting a specific document that has not been provided, you can agree to provide the answer to the question(s) or the required documents once the examination for discovery is completed. This is referred to as an “undertaking” and is very common in the examination for discovery process.
At an examination for discovery, an examiner is also present and he/she transcribes the entire examinations. Anything disclosed at examination for discoveries is admissible moving forward. The goal of the examination of discovery is to allow both sides a chance to clarify information and ask questions. It also allows both sides the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses of their lawsuit. It is not uncommon that settlement offers are made at this stage. One side may realise that their case isn’t as strong as they thought it was. Insurance companies can make an offer to settle at the examination for discovery and you and your lawyer will then discuss and decide if you want to accept the settlement offer or not.
Throughout your entire personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will be with you every step of the way to answer any questions and clarify the process. We understand, we care and we’re here to help.