Once a lawsuit gets underway, the parties start gathering information for their respective cases. This investigative process is called discovery because it sometimes exposes facts and documents that were previously not known, at least to one of the parties to the lawsuit.
Discovery takes place outside of a courtroom, and allows the parties to exchange written as well as oral information about a case. If the parties cannot agree over what information should or shouldn’t be provided in discovery, a judge will resolve the dispute.
Types of Discovery
There are typically four types of discovery methods used in personal injury lawsuits, including:
- Depositions – face to face questioning of a party or witness under oath, recorded for later use at trial.
- Requests for production of documents –physical evidence relating to the lawsuit, such as contracts, employment files, school records, medical records, and corresponding medical billings.
- Interrogatories – written questions one party sends to the other to be answered under oath to be used later at trial.
- Requests for admission – one party asks the other to admit, under oath, that certain facts are true in an effort to narrow the issues that must be decided at trial.
What Can Be Asked For During Discovery?
The information requested during discovery is generally quite broad, and might include:
- Facts about the case, including anything a witness or party saw, heard, or did
- The identity of anyone who may have knowledge of the case
- Documents relating to the matter, such as medical records and insurance contracts
- Inspection of physical objects or property relating to the dispute
- Information concerning the personal, educational, and professional background of parties and witnesses
The basic rule of discovery is this: a party may obtain any information that pertains, even ever so slightly, to any issue in the lawsuit, as long as the information is not privileged.