Discovery and Discovery Methods

All lawsuits include some sort of fact-gathering process, known as "discovery," that helps attorneys and clients better evaluate their case. The purpose of discovery is to uncover and gather any evidence and information relevant to the lawsuit. Each party has the right to discovery from the other side as well as any other persons connected to the case (witnesses, for example.)

Sidebar: Although, the scope of discovery is broad, it operates under specific rules of court. For example, the rules may limit a party to 30 questions or "interrogatories" that can be asked of the other side.

What exactly is my lawyer attempting to "discover"?

Discovery includes obtaining basic facts such as the names and address of anybody with knowledge of the case. From those basic facts, discovery becomes more specified. For instance, information on a witness's medical and employment history may be discovered once her name is revealed. The medical records may not be admissible in court but are allowed to be "discovered" because admissible evidence (the name of witness) may be found as a result.

TIP: Currently, the trend in courts is to require certain information to be turned over automatically without the necessity of a party making a formal request. However, parties may still use traditional discovery methods to investigate the facts of the lawsuit.

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