What You Should Know About Interrogatories in a Personal Injury Claim
Interrogatories are part of the discovery process that occurs when a personal injury lawsuit has been filed. Like depositions, interrogatories are questions that must be answered by each party in writing.
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HOW ARE INTERROGATORIES USED?
It is important to note that interrogatories are only conducted during the discovery process. This means that a lawsuit must have been filed. Additionally, there may be no more than 25 questions asked in an interrogatory, unless otherwise stated by local rules or approved by a judge.
Interrogatories are used to get more information about the following:
- The accident – how it happened, who was involved, where you were going or coming from, etc.
- Your injuries – type of injuries you suffered and how you are being treated for them
- Your medical history – previous doctor/hospital visits or prior injuries.
- Your personal information – your name, the type of work you do, etc.
- Your personal background – financial history, criminal background, etc.
When you answer interrogatories, you are doing so under oath. This means you could get into serious legal trouble if you lie when answering any of the questions.
CAN I SEND INTERROGATORIES TO THE OPPOSING PARTY?
Yes, the opposing party also receives interrogatories from your attorney. These questions may be like the ones sent to you. For example, the opposing party is usually asked about personal information if it is an individual. If the opposing party is a business, your attorney may ask questions about mitigation measures taken to prevent injuries.
HOW SHOULD I RESPOND TO INTERROGATORIES?
Interrogatories must be answered within 30 days after they are served, so you need to answer in a timely manner. Since these questions are answered under oath, it is important to do so honestly. However, it is important to give an answer that only pertains to what is being asked. You should not elaborate more than necessary with your responses.
For example, interrogatory questions asking about the accident should only be answered with facts. You should try to avoid assumptions about what the other party may have been thinking or could have done to prevent the accident.
Remember that your responses may be used against you later to contradict something you say during a deposition or at trial. So, be honest and stick to the facts.
CAN I OBJECT TO INTERROGATORIES?
The questions asked in interrogatories are often very personal, but they must be relevant to the accident, your injuries and the overall claim you are making against a negligent party.
That is why you are allowed to object to some questions that may not be related to these topics, are overbroad or are asking for privileged information.
For example, you may object to questions about your employer if you are not claiming lost wages as part of your lawsuit. However, if you are claiming compensation for the time you lost at work due to your injuries, you may not have a legal reason to object to a question like this.
Keep in mind that the opposing party also has the option to object to answering an interrogatory question. However, both parties may ask the court to compel an answer. Meaning that either you or the opposing party may be forced to answer a question to which an objection was issued.
Since interrogatories are written, and each party does not receive the answers from the opposing side for at least 30 days, compelling an answer may take time.
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