A lawsuit is crafted of several different stages. In the civil proceedings there are certain litigation paths that must be taken depending on the route of the case. Discovery is in the pre-trail phase of a lawsuit and acts as the parties’ opportunity to gather information.
Upon the commencement of a civil action by filing a civil summons, the defendant is allowed to file an answer to the complaint, either admitting or denying allegations.
In response to the answer, the plaintiff’s lawyers then put together written questions known as “interrogatories,” which usually mark the beginning of the discovery phase in litigation. These are a series of questions compiled by the plaintiff’s for the defendant to answer. However, the defendant may also serve a set of interrogatories on the plaintiff(s).
In addition to interrogatories, the parties may request depositions. A deposition is an examination of a party or witness in a lawsuit. A deposition allow for each side to gather further information and allows opposing counsel the opportunity to know what a witness or party to a case may say at trial by allowing them to question or depose them.
Another tool in the discovery process are the requests for admissions. These are used to determine which issues or facts in a case are really in contention. If a party is willing to admit to something then it is not something that needs to be argued during a potential trial. Requests for admissions are done in writing.
This is just a brief synopsis of the different parts of discovery in a lawsuit. The important thing to remember is discovery is meant to gather or discover information so there are fewer surprises if a case does find its way to court.