March 25, 2024

Requests for Admission in NC: An Underused Litigation Tool

If you find yourself involved in a civil lawsuit in North Carolina, you’re likely anticipating the dramatic courtroom scenes that may loom ahead. But before any case lands in front of a judge or jury, there’s a crucial evidence-gathering stage called discovery. One underutilized tool during North Carolina discovery is the request for admission. In this article we’ll cover how these requests work and why they offer injured folks a strategic advantage. 

What is a Request for Admission? 

A request for admission is a formal request made by one party in a lawsuit asking the other party to admit or deny certain facts or statements. This can include asking the other side to admit: 

  • That a document, photo, or other piece of evidence is genuine  
  • That a statement of fact is true 
  • That a legal principle applies to the case 

Essentially, it’s a way to pin down the other side on issues that are not really disputable.  

For example, let’s imagine Pam from Lexington is in a car accident. She could send a request asking the other driver to admit that they were texting when they ran through the red light. If the other driver admits this, then Pam has proven that key fact without needing to provide further evidence. 

Why Requests for Admission Matter 

Getting the other side to concede undisputed facts narrows the issues for trial. It also shows which elements still require proof through witness testimony or documentation. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses early facilitates settlement discussions.  

In Pam’s case, if the other driver denies texting, Pam knows she’ll need to provide evidence to prove it happened—such as by getting phone records or asking the driver about their texting in a deposition.  

Admissions are also binding. If a party admits something in response to a request, they cannot later change their story at trial. Knowing which facts are established provides a litigation roadmap. 

Responding to Requests for Admission  

After the requests are served, the opposing side has 30 days to respond. They can admit the matter, deny the matter, or object that they do not have enough information, after a reasonable inquiry, to admit or deny it. If no response is provided at all, the matter is deemed admitted by default.  

Dealing With Improper Denials 

If one side improperly refuses to admit or deny a request for admission, the party that served the request can bring a motion before the court to ask that the Court make the responding party give full answers or to deem the answers admitted as a sanction. 

If a party denies a request for admission, and then that fact is proven at trial, the court can make the party that denied the fact pay for the other side’s costs in proving it. For instance, if Pam has video evidence clearly showing the other driver texting, but the driver denies it anyway, the driver may have to pay Pam for her costs involved in presenting the video at trial.  


Requests for admission, when used and responded to properly, help cut through the fog of litigation. Understanding this underused tool enables strategic fact-finding. For injured folks embroiled in confusing legal complexities, RFAs can provide an advantage. The dramatic moments in the courtroom may get the attention, but cases are often won and lost in the discovery process. Mastering requests for admission gives North Carolina plaintiffs power in the early stages of litigation. 

This information is provided by Harris Legal for general benefit, education, and interest. If you have a specific legal question, you should consult with an attorney.