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Types of Discovery in Civil Litigation Cases

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If a civil case cannot be prevented at the outset, it may end up going to trial. This means one party files a complaint with a court of proper jurisdiction. After the complaint is filed, the other party then has the opportunity to file, for example, a Motion to Dismiss or an Answer. Then the case enters into what is known as “discovery.” There are six different types of discovery in civil litigation cases, and each serves a unique role in the civil litigation process.

In general, the purpose of discovery is to prevent surprise, narrow issues, and encourage out-of-court settlements.

The Six types of Discovery in Civil Litigation Cases:

  1. Oral depositions,
  2. Written depositions,
  3. Interrogatories,
  4. Requests for production or permit inspection,
  5. Physical or mental examinations, and
  6. Admissions.

All matters that are relevant to the subject matter of the case may be discovered, with a few limited exceptions for “privileged” information.

Oral depositions

Oral depositions generally consist of live testimony that is recorded by a stenographer. There will be no transcript unless a party orders it. Any transcript created may be used at trial for purposes of introducing evidence or impeaching a witness.

Written depositions

Written depositions are prepared written questions that are served on all parties except the party calling for the deposition. The parties served may serve cross questions.


Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered in writing, under oath, generally within 30 days after service.

Request for production

Requests for production are requests by one party to another to produce and permit inspection and copying, photographing, testing, etc., or for entry onto land for the purpose of inspection, testing, etc.

Examination of persons

Physical or mental examinations are examinations of persons by a qualified expert when the condition of the party is in controversy.


Admissions are written requests for admission of truth of matters, of genuineness, or application of law to facts, etc., which are served by one party on any other party.

Contact Boyer Law Firm

If you have any questions about the discovery process, or need to prepare for a deposition or other proceeding, contact one of our experienced civil litigation attorneys today for a free case evaluation!

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