Different types of Civil Discovery Available in Virginia | Ryan C. Young | Virginia Trial Lawyer

Use of Discovery in Virginia Civil Litigation

Discovery is the primary procedure for disclosing information to both plaintiffs and defendants. This sharing of information involves both written and oral questions, production of documents and requests for admissions. Discovery law prevents either side from “ambushing” the other with hidden evidence in civil litigation cases.

A trial lawyer in Virginia has a variety of discovery methods available to uncover information pertinent to each case. The types of discovery methods and the options used by a trial lawyer depend on the type of civil litigation action. Some of the most common options used in the majority of civil cases follow.

Generally, the party receiving the discovery request in Virginia must respond within 21 days. If they do not respond within 21 days, they could face a Motion to Compel and a request for attorney’s fees for the cost of a hearing on the matter.


These are written questions requiring written responses. Interrogatories are created by either plaintiff or defendant–often, both parties prepare questions for each other. Usually mailed by one party (or their trial lawyer) to the other.


This form of discovery mimics a trial-like atmosphere, without judge or jury. The trial lawyer asks oral questions of the plaintiff or defendant, requiring an immediate response. However, the questions tend to be more open-ended and conversational than in a trial. In civil litigation, it is common for some of the questions to be identical to those previously asked in the interrogatories. Depositions usually involve the presence of a court reporter, who swears the respondent to “tell the truth,” much like at a trial. In Virginia, depositions typically occur around a table in a lawyer’s office. 

Production of Documents:

Very common in civil litigation, legal counsel requests production of all documents that may be important to the case. Thorough inspection of documents follows their receipt. In many cases, all documents requested during the production phase of discovery are introduced as evidence during trial.

Requests for Admissions:

These are written questions wherein one trial lawyer asks the other party to admit or deny certain facts relevant to the case. Admissions received prior to interrogatories, depositions and trial eliminate the need for one or more questions to be answered under oath. This saves each trial lawyer time, while achieving the objective of discovery.

Discovery Scope:

All forms of discovery must follow the Virginia Rules. Each state has its own rules of civil procedure, which must be followed in all cases, whether matters of law or suits of equity (ownership) before the appropriate court. The scope of discovery in Virginia allows each party to address any issue they deem relevant to the case. The only information that is “off limits” is that classified as privileged communication. Overall, Virginia allows for “liberal” use of discovery. 

Discovery may also include physical and/or mental examinations when there is a controversy surrounding either party’s condition. However, unlike the other discovery options noted, the trial lawyer must ask the court to order a physical or mental examination to determine the other party’s condition.

Parties in civil litigation should hire a skilled, aggressive and proactive trial lawyer available. For example, discovery is a fairly straightforward procedure. However, when one party refuses to answer some questions or produce some requested documents, the trial lawyer must ask the court to compel discovery by issuing an order mandating an answer. Discovery can become complex, requiring experienced, talented legal counsel. 

Discovery in Virginia Civil Litigation

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