What the Discovery Process Actually Looks Like in a Civil Lawsuit

Have you been wronged by another person or entity? Have you found no recourse through direct contact and communication? If yes, you might feel as if you have no other option than to bring a civil lawsuit forward against the opposing party.

How does such a lawsuit proceed? Those not familiar with the letter of the law might not have experience in putting a case together. A lawsuit proceeds through various phases, with the discovery process being one of the most essential.

What is the discovery process and how does it play into the overall arc of your civil lawsuit?

Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know

Bringing Forward a Civil Case

There are a great many reasons why an individual might choose to bring a civil case forward against another person or entity. In some way, they must feel as if they’ve been wronged or harmed by the opposing party.

The basis of the civil lawsuit will be attempting to prove both the harm itself as well as the fault of the opposing party. This can be more complicated than it sounds and will often require the help of an experienced civil lawsuit lawyer.

You will need to provide a wealth of evidence in order to prove your case. How do you find the evidence you need, develop a strategy, and determine how best to present the facts? A great deal of this work is done during the discovery process.

The discovery process is the portion of a lawsuit where an attorney and their client gather a great deal of information through a variety of means. Information needs to be shared between the two parties involved with the lawsuit. There is a legal requirement to produce requested information.

There is also a legal requirement that the information that is shared is honest and accurate. If any of the information gained during the discovery process changes, a party has a legal duty to notify the opposing party.

We’ll break down some of the most common discovery tools and devices below.


One of the earliest discovery devices that will be used by both parties? Something known as interrogatories. These are written requests for basic information on the opposing party’s approach to the case at hand.

These interrogatories take the form of written questions and they must be answered in writing in return. Often, these questions cover the broad approach one party might be taking towards the case such as potential defenses, theories, and the damages they think are at stake.

If any major witnesses are being brought in to testify in court, this is the moment where their names first might be mentioned. The opposing parties can then plan to bring these individuals in for a deposition (more on that in a moment).

With all of this basic information in hand, each party can better prepare and strategize for the case.


If you’re familiar with any part of the discovery process already, it’s likely the deposition. This is when either party asks the other party to answer questions under oath.

Attorneys from both sides also might question key witnesses in the case during this part of the process.

These depositions will be recorded and kept as key evidence in the case. An attorney will likely coach their client prior to a deposition taking place, giving them an idea of what to say or not say.

The idea of a deposition is to get a sense of what a person might say during the actual court testimony. This gives both parties time to plan their strategies for the case based on what they learn from the deposition.

Since the deposition can also be recorded and used as evidence, it can be a good thing to keep in either side’s back pocket. If a person’s testimony in court contradicts what they said in their deposition, it can greatly threaten their credibility.

Production of Documents

Depending on the nature of the case in question, certain documents may play outsized importance in determining the guilt or fault of one of the parties. These documents may not be in the possession of the plaintiff when the case begins.

Each party is allowed to mail requests for certain documents to the opposing party’s attorney. These documents can be wide-ranging and serve many functions. The kind of documents that will be requested will depend on the case in question.

There are some instances where a party can claim a document that is requested is ‘privileged information,’ and deny the request. However, a judge will need to approve this proclamation.

If they do not approve, the party will be forced to hand the documentation over.

In some cases, only a few pieces of paperwork will need to be collected and used as evidence. In other more complex cases, warehouses of paperwork might be collected, organized, and filed through.

In these instances, a civil case can become an extremely expensive and time-intensive affair. There are many famous examples of cases such as these, most including large civil lawsuits against large corporations.

Understanding the Discovery Process

Bringing a civil case forward can be a complicated matter. There are many different phases to a lawsuit, and the discovery process can be one of the most essential portions.

If you hope to succeed in bringing such a lawsuit forward, it’s important you understand how this process works. The above information can help.

Need more legal advice, tips, or tricks? Check out the rest of our blog for more.

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