What are Interrogatories in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, there may come a time when you and your personal injury attorney will file interrogatories to gather information from the other side. The defendant, in turn, may also send interrogatories to you.

Let’s look at what these interrogatories are, and what part they may play in helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

What Are Interrogatories in a Personal Injury Case?

Simply put, interrogatories are written questions that one party in a personal injury lawsuit sends to the other. The other party generally has 30 days to send written answers under oath.

Interrogatories are part of the discovery process. This is when both sides gather evidence about the case. They request and exchange information and documents, and may also take depositions from experts, witnesses, and other people important to the case.

Unlike many legal documents, interrogatories generally don’t have to be filed with the court. They’re simply sent from one party to the other and back. There is a general limit of 25 questions asked in an interrogatory unless the judge or local rules allow more or less.

Interrogatories offer attorneys a way to gather information, narrow down the issues in a case, and build evidence to support a client’s claim or defense. Written statements carry a certain weight, and unlike oral testimony, are harder to dispute at a later date.

The Purpose of Interrogatories

If you are the plaintiff in the case, your personal injury attorney will be working to find evidence to support your claim. As part of that process, the attorney may send interrogatories to the defendant(s).

Interrogatories aren’t usually written in typical question form. Instead, they’re put in statement form. So instead of, “Do you have auto insurance?”, the interrogatory will say, “Please describe the types of auto insurance you carry.”

As to what questions may be included in an interrogatory, it depends on the case and whether the questions are going to the plaintiff or defendant. As an example, in the case of a truck accident, a plaintiff may send an interrogatory to the defendant truck driver and/or company including questions like these:

  • The driver’s driving and criminal record: Describe any past criminal convictions, traffic violations, etc.
  • Agency: If you were on the job at the time of the accident, identify your employer and the nature of the work you were performing.
  • Property damage: Identify the property damage each vehicle sustained in the accident. Include photographs, repair estimates, and the date and cost of repairs.
  • Impairment: State whether you consumed alcoholic beverages or drugs within 24 hours of the incident.
  • Facts of the incident: Give a detailed statement of how the incident took place, including where you were going, the date and location of the accident, the speed of the vehicles upon impact, etc.
  • Medical treatments: Provide details on any medical treatments you received after the accident.

In a dog bite personal injury lawsuit, as another example, the plaintiff may send questions to the dog owner including some like these:

  • Information about the dog: Please state the breed and size of the dog.
  • Insurance: Please provide information on whether you had renters/homeowner’s insurance on the date of the incident.
  • Identify experts: Identify all experts you intend to call as witnesses.
  • Efforts to prevent the bite: Please describe all the actions you took on the day of the incident to prevent the plaintiff from being attacked.

If you are involved in a personal injury case, your personal injury lawyer can help guide you in writing and sending these questions to the defendant, and in answering those sent from the defendant to you.