As the victim in a car accident, you may have decided to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending driver for your damages and losses. As part of that legal process, your attorney may have the driver go through an interrogation, as a way to gather information that may not have been presented to light otherwise. The other driver will be under oath when he or she answers a series of questions about the accident and other pertinent details. Because of this pressure from being sworn in, it is more likely that the other driver’s answers will be true.
So how do interrogatories work?
A list of written questions will be created and then sent to the driver and his or her legal team. It is a fairly quick and inexpensive way to get the information you need about the other side’s case. There is a limited number of interrogatories that each side may submit to the other, usually around 25 or so, including its subparts.
In general, these inquiries have to be answered within a 30 day time frame. If needed, they can extend the interrogatories for 30 days extension. These questions can be sent between each legal office, and do not have to be filed with the court.
Some courts will permit these interrogatories and written discovery to be sent to the other side at the initiation of the case in addition to the petition or complaint. This can be especially useful for car accident claims or other forms of personal injury cases.
What types of questions may be asked in the interrogatories?
The questions asked in a car accident claim interrogatory may include specific or more broad inquiries. But, the party that is sending the interrogatory must be wary not to ask too broad of questions, as it can be objected to with the party refusing to provide the details requested.
Interrogatories may ask for personal information such as your current name, past names, address, date of birth, and whether you have a married or single status. Interrogatories are designed to reveal information about how the car accident happened, so witness contacts, evidence, videos, photographs are likely to be asked for.
As the plaintiff, if the other driver’s legal team sends you an interrogatory as well, it is probably going to ask about your medical history, health before the accident, and any treatments you have received thus far. The motivation behind this is to attempt to uncover injuries or medical conditions you have had in the past which could potentially impact the areas of your body that you are claiming were injured. The reason they may do this is as a strategy, twisting factual information about your injuries and that they are actually “pre-existing” so the defendant shouldn’t owe you compensation for them.
When would it be in my best interest to object to an interrogatory?
There isn’t one rule that applies to every situation, but in general, you don’t want to offer more information than what is asked of you out of risk of saying something that can be used against you in the case. Your car accident lawyer in Tarzana, CA can assess the questions asked of you and whether you should object or answer honestly.
Thanks to Barry P. Goldberg for their insight into personal injury claims and car accident interrogatories.