The one thing I notice in so many files I review that consistently contributes to excessive and unnecessary legal costs is the use of unfocused and overly broad form discovery. What I so often see when a new file is assigned to a defense counsel with a request for a discovery or litigation plan is the same time worn (form) plan that has been used in previous cases.
In addition to the overbilling which often occurs when attorneys bill for preparing form discovery as if it were originally prepared, preparing overly broad form discovery also contributes to excessive legal costs in other important ways. For one thing, keep in mind that what attorneys can easily do in a matter of a few minutes by simply pushing a button on their computer and adding in party and venue information may take plaintiffs weeks (or sometimes months) to search for documents or provide appropriate answers.
And the broader the discovery requested, the greater the likelihood for time consuming and expensive discovery disputes or the need for time consuming and costly follow-ups to fill in gaps in discovery responses or to get even more information – so often on marginal or peripheral issues. Then, there is the inevitable direct costs of having the defense attorney (or paralegal) go through all of the form discovery responses. So it is that all unfocused and broad-based discovery invariably leads to unnecessary and excessive direct legal costs as well as indirect costs such as increased “cycle times” and decreased adjuster productivity as they can accept fewer new assignments while they continue to work on their “old dogs.”
And just as important for the individual plaintiffs and defendants, overly broad discovery also can slow down if not halt altogether any effort to “promptly” resolve which might otherwise be a very resolvable case. Because of the importance and complexity of this issue, I thought it best to spend the next few blog posts delving into the specific types of discovery that can contribute to excessive and wholly unnecessary costs. First up is the topic of medical records discovery.
The excessive cost issues involving medical records discovery will be covered by my colleague, Don Douglass. Don is a veteran insurance defense attorney with 30+ years of experience. As medical records acquisition and review of all of those records can be the single most contributor to excessive discovery costs in BI cases, you will want to read what Don has to say about why most medical records discovery is wasteful. So, please stay tuned.