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Responding to Discovery Requests

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

This article explains how to respond to a discovery request.

Learn more about what to do if you have received discovery requests from the opposing side and how to answer some of the most common types of discovery requests.

Warning: Responding to discovery requests is particularly difficult and requires a deep understanding of the law. Failure to follow the rules of discovery can lead to the exclusion of your evidence as well as other potential penalties. We highly recommend that you seek the help of an attorney when navigating discovery. This article does not cover every aspect of discovery.

What is a response to discovery requests?

First, a party will make a discovery request, which involves exchanging relevant information. Discovery is the legal process that lets each side of a suit ask the other side for information that is related to the case. The party that receives the discovery requests must then respond to the request based on information that is reasonably available to them or their attorney at the time of the response. 

How long do I have to respond to the discovery requests?

Generally, the party receiving the discovery request has 30 days to respond. 

Some exceptions and variations apply, so make sure you review how much time you have to respond depending on the type of case, the rules, and the type of discovery method used. 

For example: 

  • In some cases, the parties may agree to a different deadline to respond or to extend the response deadline. 

  • If the discovery request was received by mail, you have an additional three days to respond. 

How do I respond to discovery requests?

Your response will depend on the type of discovery request you have received.  As outlined in our Discovery in Texas article, there are different types of discovery requests. Some of which include: 

  • Requests for Disclosures; 
  • Requests for Admissions;  
  • Request for Production, Inspection, or Entry;   
  • Interrogatories;  
  • Depositions; and  
  • Mental or physical examinations. 

How do I respond to requests for admissions?

Requests for admissions are requests made by you or to you asking to admit or deny facts related to your case. You should respond to each request in the order received. Start by retyping each request and then follow each with your answer. Each answer must specifically admit or deny or explain in detail why you cannot admit or deny the request. 

Lack of information or knowledge is not a proper response unless you state that a reasonable inquiry was made but the information you know, or the information that was easily obtainable, is not sufficient to answer the question. 

Any response not answered on time is considered admitted without the need for a court order. 

Read Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 198 to learn all about requests for admissions. 

How do I respond to requests for production?

Requests for Production are written requests made to produce or allow examination of physical things such as documents, electronic files, emails, text messages, photographs, and personal or real property that the other side controls. This type of request must specify a reasonable time and place for the item to be produced. 

You should respond to each request for production in the order received. Start by retyping each request and then follow every request with the appropriate answer. 

The best way to keep your production responses organized is to create a folder for each request, label it with the request number, and put all responsive documents, files, emails, texts, pictures, etc. into the correct folder. You can use a document-sharing platform like Dropbox or Google Drive to send the folders to the other side. 

If the items requested are only available physically, you will note so in your answer and produce it at the designated place and time. 

How do I respond to Interrogatories?

Interrogatories are written questions sent by one party to another. You should respond to each interrogatory in the order received. Start by retyping each interrogatory and then follow each question with your answer. If an answer comes from information you received from other people, you should write that as part of your response. 

Your answers must be signed under oath. 

Read Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 197 to learn more. 

How do I respond to other kinds of discovery requests?

Do I need to respond to everything?

Yes. You must respond to every request sent to you. However, you are allowed to object to certain requests. 

Read Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 193.1 to learn more. 

What can I object to?

You can object to certain records that are privileged, vague, ambiguous, overbroad, information that the other party has equal access to, and much more. For example, prior lawsuits and medical records may be privileged or just not relevant to your current case. 

Note: Objections can be complicated, and making objections takes a deep understanding of the law. We highly recommend that you seek the help of an attorney. 

Read Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rules 193.2, 193.3, and 193.4 to learn more. 

What if I ignore the discovery requests?

If you ignore the discovery requests, the party who served the request can file a motion to compel the court. The motion will ask the court to order you to comply with the discovery requests. You are also at risk of facing sanctions, which can include fines, attorney's fees, or even dismissal of your case. Additionally, if you fail to obey the court's order, you may be held in contempt of court, which can result in further penalties. 

Note: Ignoring discovery requests can have serious consequences for your case. If you are having difficulty complying with a discovery request, it may be wise to seek the advice of an attorney. 

Read Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 193.6 to learn more. 

Are there any examples of a response that I can see?

Yes. Please see this Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Request for Production for an idea of how to do your own. 

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