Discovery Responses

A key part of litigation is written discovery. Attorneys from both sides will serve the other with documents asking for information about the case that only the other side has. There are three standard types of written discovery: interrogatories (questions), requests for admission and requests for production.  

Requests for production are generally the most important. Generally, the requests for production ask the other party for documents that relate to key issues in the case. In an insurance suit, your attorney will ask the insurance company for documents that relate to your communications with adjusters, their investigation into the claim and their evaluation of the claim. 

Most of these documents are contained in a “claim file” or “claim notes,” which the insurer is required by law to maintain in some fashion. The claim file contains letters that have been sent between you and your insurer, the investigation report created by your adjuster, the amounts assigned to different aspects of your claim, and what they offered you to settle your claim, as well as how they arrived at that number. The claim notes show what all the insurance company has done on your claim, often including information that is not found within the claim documents, such as notes of conversations with you or others involved in the investigation and evaluation of your claim.  

Your attorney will also typically seek documentation about the personnel involved in your claim, including documentation relating to their work history and any evaluations they have received by the company. Training and any manuals providing guidance to those handling your claim are also regularly requested. 

Conversely, the insurer will ask you for documents relating to any involvement of builders or inspectors. They may request any notes you have taken or receipts for anything that you had to purchase as the result of any damage. If you have lost time at work, or may lose time in the future, the insurer will request documentation relating to such issues. 

Interrogatories are simply questions posed by one party to the other. The topics are generally similar to those addressed by requests for production, but instead of asking for documents, interrogatories are geared towards obtaining written responses. For instance, your attorney may ask the insurer to identify who worked on your file, so that the attorney can decide whether to depose that person or not. Interrogatories can also narrow the issues. Thus, the insurer may ask if you are claiming continuing medical treatment; if you are, then the insurer knows it is a question in the case; if not, then it is no longer something that needs to be addressed. 

Requests for admission also seek to narrow issues in the case. Instead of an interrogatory about your continuing medical needs, an insurer might simply ask you to admit that you do not have ongoing medical concerns. Similarly, your attorney might ask the insurer to admit that it has no reason to argue that you failed to provide notice to it about your claim. This avoids an argument that you did something wrong down the line.  

Written discovery can be very lengthy and challenging. It is essential that you work with your attorney to answer the discovery and provide the requested documentation within the time frame specified. Your attorney will know when to object to certain requests and what conditions might need to be noted in your response. You will always want to be truthful, providing accurate and detailed answers, while being aware of precisely what is being asked.  

You also must keep any documents that you believe might be related to your case. Failure to preserve relevant documents can result in an instruction from the judge to the jury that you did not do so. 

Again, consulting with your attorney is key, so be sure to give information regarding the discovery requests to your attorney as soon as possible, as you typically have 30 days to respond once discovery is served on your attorney. 

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed until you enter into a retention agreement with us.
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