Discovery is a significant stage in the litigation of a fire loss. The fire investigator whose work may be introduced during civil litigation should follow discovery guidelines in that work. As an entity engaged in a scientific process and working with forensic evidence, often as an agent of an attorney or an insurance carrier, the investigator's work product will often be subject to discovery or disclosure. During the course of a career, the fire investigator will likely participate in the production of records and reports, sit for depositions, and assist in answering interrogatories — all of which are part of the discovery process. Therefore, it is critical for a fire investigator to understand the discovery process so his or her investigative work, work product, and evidence recovery procedures can be properly applied by the attorney within the rules of civil procedure. Failure to understand the civil discovery process, including preserving materials for discovery and supplying materials in response to discovery requests, can have serious ramifications for fire loss cases and the fire investigator's career. This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in civil proceedings such as fire loss claims and product defect lawsuits. It will address basic definitions, the civil discovery process, key differences in the civil discovery process vs. criminal discovery process, the fire investigator's role related to discovery, and where discovery-related issues may arise for the fire investigator.
This self-paced program has a companion program covering similar topics in criminal discovery.