The DiscoveryOnce the lawsuit is begun by filing the complaint, the plaintiff's mesothelioma attorney and the defendants' attorneys can engage in discovery, where each side learns facts available to the other side. This information is provided in three forms:
- The plaintiff answers a standardized set of written questions (called interrogatories) that must be answered in writing, under oath, with the assistance of the plaintiff's mesothelioma lawyer.
- The plaintiff must sign written authorization for the defendant to obtain the plaintiff's medical records directly from the hospitals or doctors that have given the plaintiff medical treatment. Often, there are also authorizations to obtain Social Security records indicating where the plaintiff has worked, and the plaintiff's military records, if any.
- Often, the most critical item of discovery is called the deposition. In their home or in a lawyer's office, the attorneys for the asbestos companies are permitted to directly ask the plaintiff questions. The plaintiff, who will always have his or her mesothelioma attorney present, must answer the questions (unless they are improper, in which case the plaintiff's lawyer will object and instruct the plaintiff not to answer) under oath. There will be a stenographer present, who will make a typewritten transcript of all the questions, answers, objections and so forth. Sometimes, the plaintiff's own attorney will be asking the questions, in order to preserve the plaintiff's testimony. Often, these types of depositions are recorded on videotape, to be played at trial.