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How You Should Answer Discovery Requests

how you should answer discovery requests by davis law group pc in chesapeake, virginia

How You Should Answer Discovery Requests

March 22, 2024 Davis Law Group

Discovery is the process by which parties collect and exchange information in preparation for trial.

One of the aims of America’s adversarial judicial system is to discover the truth; therefore, trial is not a time for the parties to ambush each other with surprises. Sharing information through discovery is intended to make trials fair by being based on evidence rather than surprise.

If your case is headed toward trial, you will inevitably have to respond to various discovery requests. Answering such requests can be time-consuming and difficult, but the more work you put in, the less time your attorney will have to spend organizing and finalizing the responses, which will save you all the money the attorney would’ve charged at his or her hourly rate.

The Discovery Process

Generally, opposing counsel will send discovery requests to your attorney, who will then forward the requests to you. You must answer each request and give the compiled information back to your attorney. Your attorney will then finalize the responses and make any relevant objections before sending the answers to the opposing party’s attorney.

Discovery is a two-way street, so your attorney will also send discovery requests to opposing counsel. The process of requesting information from the opposing party usually does not involve as much input from clients as giving information to the opposing party. So don’t be surprised if your attorney only contacts you about responding to the other party’s discovery requests.

There are many methods parties use to gather information during discovery. Two common methods are interrogatories and requests for production of documents.


An interrogatory is a question posed by the opposing party that you are required to answer in writing under penalty of perjury. You must answer each question, including subparts. If a question is inapplicable, then you should write “Not applicable” as the answer. Similarly, if you do not know the answer and cannot discover the information through reasonable investigation, then you should write “Unknown.” Under no circumstances should you leave a question blank.


You should try to answer every question, even if that requires searching through records. You have a duty to provide all the information at your disposal, so you cannot claim that an answer is unknown just because you cannot think of the answer right away. If the answer is discoverable because the pertinent records are within your control, then you must do your best to find the answer. However, this duty does not extend to tracking down the individual(s) that know or have control over the information. If you cannot answer a question because someone else has the necessary information, you should state this fact and state the name of the individual that has the information, if known.


Occasionally, interrogatories ask for a monetary value. In communicating the value, you should note that the number you provide is an estimate.


It is important to remember that only a court can decide if you do not need to answer a question based on an exception to the discovery requirements, such as attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine. You cannot refuse to give your attorney the information based on these grounds. If you think the information might be protected by such an exception, you should indicate that belief after answering the question so that your attorney can determine whether and how to object to the request. Your attorney will only be able to convince the court to protect the information from discovery if he or she knows exactly what you want to protect.


Requests for Production of Documents

A request for production of documents asks that you provide copies of documents to the opposing party.


When compiling and sending documents to your attorney, you should organize and label each document. If you provide your attorney with disorganized materials, then the attorney and support staff will have to spend time organizing the documents and will charge you at their hourly rate for this work. This will result in additional, expensive, and unnecessary legal fees.


Do not write on any of the documents. If you need to comment about some of the documents, you should write your comment on a post-it note or a separate sheet of paper.


Once again, you have a duty to provide all pertinent documents that are in your control and that you can reasonably acquire. If the requested documents do not exist or are under another’s control, then you should communicate that fact to your attorney along with the names of individuals with control.


When organizing the documents, you should group them according to request and within those groupings, put the documents in chronological order. For every request, you should have a corresponding numbered list indicating what documents you have enclosed, whether any documents requested do not exist, or if any documents requested are in another’s possession.


You can note whether you think documents are protected by the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine, but ultimately you must still provide your attorney with the document and trust that he or she will make the appropriate objections.

Davis Law Group Can Help

Discovery can seem daunting, but working thoroughly and diligently to provide your attorney with accurate information will reap huge rewards when you go to trial. At Davis Law Group, our experienced litigation attorneys can help put you at ease as you work through the discovery and trial process. Set up your appointment today.