Civil Discovery In Personal Injury Cases

What Is The Civil Discovery Process?

Civil Discovery Is Limited To What Is Reasonably Calculated To Lead To Admissible Evidence

Civil Discovery is a process wherein each side attempts to discover potential evidence, information, and material possessed by the opposing side. In general, discovery is very broad and is primarily limited to what is reasonably calculated to the discovery of admissible evidence. There are also categories of documents and information that are protected by privileges and privacy. The most obvious privileges are the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product privilege. The most obvious realms of privacy are financial privacy and medical privacy. 

Types of Civil Discovery Devices

Civil Discovery devices include but are not limited to Form Interrogatories, Special Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admissions, among other types as well.  These are the most commonly used and are very effective in obtaining the necessary evidence for your personal injury case. 

Form Interrogatories

There are many different types of discovery devices. The most common are Form Interrogatories which have been approved by the Judicial Council of California. The term “approved” is somewhat misleading. The Judicial Council of California only approved Form Interrogatories as it pertains to the form of the interrogatory, e.g., Form Interrogatories cannot be deemed vague and ambiguous. Nevertheless, Form Interrogatories can still be deemed to violate a privilege or privacy right. Form Interrogatories may even be irrelevant to a case. There are two different sets of Form Interrogatories, one for unlimited cases (where the amount sought is over $25,000.00) and one for limited cases (where the amount sought is below $25,000.00). 

Requests For Production Of Documents

The second most common discovery device are Requests for Production of Documents, which may go by many different names, e.g., Demand for Production of Documents. There is no limit as to how many Requests for Production of Documents that can be propounded in an unlimited case. Requests for Production of Documents to parties and Subpoenas issued to third parties are the primary methods of discovering documents in litigation.

Special Interrogatories

The third most common discovery device are Special Interrogatories which are interrogatories specially drafted for a case. Unlimited cases have a limit of 35 special interrogatories that may be asked by a party, but this is easily overcome by an attorney affidavit of necessity, which is a declaration that an attorney includes with a set of Special Interrogatories that circumvents the 35 interrogatory limit out of necessity. Most attorneys have templates for Special Interrogatories that they propound based on the type of case.

Requests For Admissions

The fourth most common discovery device are Requests for Admissions. Similar to Special Interrogatories, there is a 35 Requests for Admissions limit, but, again, that can be circumvented with an attorney affidavit of necessity. Requests for Admissions are both a discovery device and a trial device. Requests for Admissions seek an admission of a fact, or a genuineness of a document, that can then be used at the time of trial to establish a fact or the genuineness of a document. If the responding party denies such a fact, or denies the genuineness of a document, then the propounding party may seek a post-trial motion for fees and costs associated with the proving of the subject fact or the genuineness of the subject document. The propounding party may bring such a motion for fees and costs even if the propounding party does not prevail at trial. 

Service Of Civil Discovery 

Discovery which is personally served, i.e., hand delivered, must be responded to within 30 days. Discovery which is served via next business day delivery must be responded to within 32 days. Discovery which is served via regular mail must be responded to within 35 days. As long as the responses are mailed out via the prescribed time, then they are timely. 

Drafting Civil Discovery Requests

All discovery must be drafted for an attorney to review within 10 days of receipt. This does not require a final draft, but just a draft so that the attorney may collaborate in the process as soon as possible. Further, a copy of all discovery must be immediately sent to the client. If the client has email or facsimile, then immediately get the documents to the client via email or facsimile. Also, there must be a meeting immediately arranged with the client to review the discovery so that the responses may go out verified. 

Complete Medical Records Necessary In Personal Injury Civil Discovery Responses

Further, prior to responses being served, the file must go to the medical specials clerk assigned to the file so that person may speak with the client and obtain a complete medical update and to assure that we have all the necessary medical information which includes past medical information as well. For each litigated file, we must have medical bills and records that: (1) we are contending are associated with the incident; (2) pertain to past treatment with the same providers; and (3) pertain to past treatment involving the same body parts at issue. The person drafting the discovery must assure that this is completed. No excuses. 

Civil Discovery Responses Given Under Penalty Of Perjury

This may seem like a tenuous process, but discovery responses are given under penalty of perjury. Perjury carries both civil and criminal penalties. Discovery responses must be done right. If you feel that you require more time, then call opposing counsel’s office as soon as possible and obtain an extension to respond to discovery. Extensions are typically granted in two week intervals and must be confirmed in writing by the party receiving the extension.

Get Legal Assistance For Your Personal Injury Case Now! 

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of the civil discovery process in personal injury cases can be a daunting task, but you do not have to face it alone. At The Sterling Firm, we are committed to empowering you with a comprehensive understanding of your rights and options. Our experienced personal injury counsel is adept at meticulously gathering and presenting evidence, accurately calculating your damages, and engaging in strategic negotiations with insurance companies to secure the fair settlement you deserve. Do not let uncertainty or intimidation hinder your path to justice. Reach out to The Sterling Firm today, and let our seasoned lawyers champion your cause. Ready to take the first step towards your peace of mind? Book your consultation now or call us at (310) 498-2750. Your journey towards recovery and fair compensation starts with us. Call Now!


Justin Sterling, Esq. is a leading personal injury attorney and civil litigator.  Mr. Sterling is the founder of The Sterling Firm, a top-rated law firm with its original headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The Sterling Firm has a client base that stretches not only across the nation but also around the globe. We offer experienced and driven legal counsel for your matter.  We handle insurance claims and civil lawsuits, including those that arise from catastrophic and severe personal injury.

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