Lawsuits can seem confusing, stressful, and foreign to those who have never experienced legal issues. In a civil lawsuit, there are processes that attorneys and clients go through together in order to fight for their case, one of which is called Written Discovery.
So how does a civil lawsuit work? First, someone files a complaint in which they explain the facts and reasoning behind why they’re filing the claim. This could be anything from defamation to property damage to negligence resulting in injury or death. Basically, civil law deals with any behavior that constitutes an injury to an individual or a private party. After filing the complaint, the defendant is served with a summons explaining the wrongs the opposing party is accusing them of. The defendant must then respond to the other party, filing an answer to the allegations listed in the complaint. Once the response is sent, the discovery phase of civil litigation begins.
A large majority of civil cases are able to reach a settlement agreement during the discovery phase. Why? One party usually “discovers” a fact or document that would make it nearly impossible for the other party to fight in a trial, hence why this part is named “Discovery”.
What is Written Discovery?
Four Parts of Written Discovery
To uncover relevant facts about the case, both parties are permitted to perform four processes: Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, Requests for Admissions, and Third Party Subpoenas.
Interrogatories are questions sent to the opposing party that must be returned in writing. These could be questions ranging from who their health care provider is, where they are employed, when the last time they visited a doctor, etc.
Requests for Production of Documents
Requests for Production of Documents is when one party requests certain relevant documents that are currently in possession of the opposing party. Usually, these documents are reviewed and copied in order to provide equal access to both sides. This is usually where medical records, insurance papers, or other relevant physical documents come into play.
Requests for Admissions
Requests for Admissions involves one party asking the opposing to admit, deny, or prove the validity of certain facts or documents. This portion of the discovery saves time during the trial and allows the party to trust the facts or documents in question.
Third Party Subpoenas
Third Party Subpoenas involve the first two processes, interrogatories and requests for production of documents, but with those not involved in the actual lawsuit. Parties may request third-party subpoenas from individuals or organizations in which they suspect to find relevant information.