Many personal injury cases are settled without ever proceeding to trial. However, both sides of a case know that there is a chance they will go to court, and need to start preparing their case well in advance. As part of this preparation, both sides will typically send interrogatories, or lists of questions, to the other side. The 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.
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.
From these examples, you can see how detailed and meticulous interrogatories are. 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 handles documents like this routinely. They will walk you through the entire list and they have a dedicated team to help get all the answers put together. You do not have to do it yourself.
At the same time, your lawyer will be sending interrogatories of their own to the other side, helping build the strongest case possible.
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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