After an accident, you’re sure to have plenty of questions for the other side. The good news is that you have the legal ability to get the answers you need from the other parties in your lawsuit. Interrogatories can help you gather important information that can help you make a case – or defend yourself in one.
However, there are some limits to how you can use an interrogatory. You also have a few obligations should you receive one. Knowing what an interrogatory is, how to use it, and what’s expected of you should you receive one can help you during your case.
What is an interrogatory?
Many cases settle without going to a full trial, but if yours make sit to this stage, you’ll need to be sure that you have the information you need to win your case or to mount a successful defense. An interrogatory provides a format by which you can obtain critical information for building your case. Plaintiffs and defendants will typically send interrogatories, or lists of questions, to each other as part of this preparation.
Interrogatory questions ask what kind of claims the other side will make and what kind of evidence they’ll use. Interrogatories are part of the discovery process. However, there are certain rules you’ll need to follow when determining which questions you’ll ask.
What kinds of questions do interrogatories ask?
Interrogatories are typically open ended and ask you to describe facts or claims about the case. They do not give you multiple choices to select from: they want you to describe things and give as much detail as possible. In many cases, interrogatories do not use a question format at all; they’re simply a list of topics you have to respond to.
Examples of interrogatories in a car accident claim might include:
- State whether you consumed any medicine, drug, or alcohol of any kind during the 24 hours before the accident. If so please state the names of each substance you consumed, the amount you consumed, the time when you consumed them, and where you obtained them.
- Give the names of every individual who has given a signed statement related to the accident, and provide their home address and business address if known. Attach to your answer a copy of each signed statement.
- Describe exactly what the defendant (the other driver) should have done that would have prevented you from being injured.
Modern interrogatories often have dozens of questions, covering everything from your name and past residences to the location of the injuries on your body and the names of the doctors who treated you. Because of this level of detail, responding to an interrogatory can be intimidating. However, your lawyer will walk you through the entire list and has a dedicated team to help get all the answers put together.
How many interrogatories are allowed in Georgia?
Georgia allows a plaintiff to to submit up to 50 interrogatories, including subparts, of these questions, to a defendant and vice versa. Your lawyer will be sending their own interrogatories to the other side, helping build the strongest case possible.
How do you respond to interrogatories?
You must respond to any interrogatories you receive within 30 days. If a defendant is served with interrogatories at the same time as they are served with a complaint, they have 45 days in which to respond. The court may extend the amount of time that someone has to respond to the questions.
All responses to the interrogatory must be made in writing. and under oath. Objections to questions are allowed but they must cite specific reasons. All answers must also be signed by the person making them, with objections signed by a lawyer.
Why are interrogatories used?
Interrogatories help keep the case clear and fair for all parties. They establish exactly which facts are under dispute. For example, if a driver claims you hit them because you were speeding, but agrees you were sober, that is very different than if they believe you were driving drunk as well. An interrogatory gives you a chance to address the specific facts under question, and prevents the other party from later changing their story and making a different accusation.
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