Lawsuit discovery is the process by which the parties involved in a lawsuit get access to information that may help them to win their lawsuit.
The idea behind lawsuit discovery is that each side should have access to all the relevant facts and documents prior to trial. Each side gets to request that the other side disclose this information.
Because we have legal discovery processes, there are no secrets in lawsuits. If your opponent's lawyer is reasonably talented, everything will come out at some point in the discovery process. So, withholding information is never a smart move.
You should also realize that discovery is invasive. The opposing party's lawyers may subject your life to intensive scrutiny, looking for anything that can give them an edge in the case.
If you don't like what your being asked to disclose, your lawyer can object, but you'd be surprised how much information they'll be allowed to get. If you don't want your personal life to be on display, you may want to think twice about initiating a lawsuit.
So how does lawsuit discovery work exactly?
Generally speaking, there are three main steps to lawsuit discovery: written discovery, document production and depositions.
Written Discovery For Lawsuits
In the Written Discovery process, the opposing party may ask you to complete Interrogatories or Requests for Admission. Similarly, you and your lawyer may send the opposing party similar requests.
Interrogatories ask you to answer questions in a way that lets you tell your version of the facts and of your claims. Requests for admission are another type of written discovery, in which the recipients are asked to admit to or deny specific facts pertaining to the case.
Legal Discovery Document Production
In a lawsuit, Document Production starts with the premise that both parties to the case should typically have the right to see any documents that relate to a case. This might include things like medical records covering prior medical history or police reports pertaining to an accident.
Discovery Lawsuit Depositions
Depositions are sworn statements, in which the deposed party must answer questions from an attorney. This is done in front of a court reporter who then provides a court transcript after the deposition is completed. If you find that you must be part of a deposition, it's best to say what you know. If you don't know something, it's fine to say that you don't know. Your lawyer should give you plenty of advice and coaching prior to a deposition.
Making the Most of Lawsuit Discovery
This article has given you a general understanding of discovery. Discovery can vary considerably from this process based on state laws, the case type, involved attorneys, and many other factors.
However, the key thing to understand about lawsuit discovery is that it gives each side the opportunity to find out information that can help them to win a lawsuit. Discovery is often used to cast doubt on the claims of a lawsuit participant, for example.
There are many aspects to doing discovery well. A good lawyer will be adept at the discovery process, both in initiating legal discovery requests on your behalf and in helping you to address your opponent's discovery queries.