When an insurance company refuses to provide fair compensation after you’ve been the victim of an accident, you may have to rely on a judge and jury to find justice.
Filing a lawsuit and preparing for a trial may be a new experience for you, and one of the first unfamiliar legal terms you may hear is “interrogatories.” They are a list of questions you’ll answer for the insurance company’s legal defense team. They are nothing to fear, but you should know a little about what’s expected of you when you respond.
What are Interrogatories in California Personal Injury Cases?
Interrogatories are a list of around 30 questions that are traded between a plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the party you have sued) after a lawsuit has been filed. It’s an exchange of information in order to quickly show each side what the opposing counsel is claiming in the lawsuit.
Interrogatories are served up at the beginning of the Discovery Phase of your lawsuit. Meaning both sides “discover” what claims and evidence the opposite side will be using to prove their case. This generally happens soon after a lawsuit has been filed and the defendant has filed a response.
You’ll be required to answer questions on many topics including how much your hospital bills have totaled and what you’ve lost in wages while you’ve missed work.
You are expected to send your response to these questions within a month.
Questions Included in Interrogatories
The interrogatories will usually include some basic questions about the accident and your injuries. “How did the accident happen?” “What type of injuries did you suffer?”
Some of the questions may seem personal or invasive. Such as, “how many times have you been married?” or, “List all of the medical treatment you’ve received in the past decade.”
These questions can seem like a violation of your rights, but during a lawsuit, lawyers are allowed to engage in a detailed examination of your background. This can include your medical history, injuries from other accidents, and your driving record.
Some of the inquiries will have you digging into your memory and your records. “List all of the jobs you’ve had since you were 18.” “State all of your activities 24 hours before the accident occurred.”
Things to Remember When Answering Interrogatories
You should keep in mind that you are answering these questions under oath. You must work with your personal injury attorney to answer with the correct figures and accurate information to the best of your ability. If you purposely give false information you could be found guilty of perjury.
One purpose of these questions is to get your claims and account of what happened on the record. Lawyers for the defense will be using your questions as a guideline. If you change your testimony down the road, they will use your interrogatories as proof that your story now differs from what you answered previously. This can be very damaging to your case.
Also, be prepared for numerous requests for documents to back up your answers. This is especially true in injury cases. Medical charts and billing invoices will be required. When you answer questions you should already be thinking about the process to gather the documents that show proof for your response.
Objections to Interrogatories
You have the right to object to any interrogatory question. You and your attorney can assert that a question is too confusing or vague. The interrogatory may ask for inadmissible evidence or evidence that doesn’t apply to the case.
A question may be overly broad and appear to be a way to create unnecessary work for you and your legal representative.
You would usually answer all of the interrogatories that you feel comfortable with and await a ruling on the questions you find objectionable.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Victims In California
If you’ve been the victim of a traffic collision, a slip-and-fall at a place of business, or any other type of accident caused by someone’s negligence, please contact Maison Law of California.
Attorney Martin Gasparian founded Maison Law to make sure victims who may have very little experience with the justice system aren’t taken advantage of. If you’ve been hurt by the mistakes of others, you should never face the incredible medical costs of your own recovery alone. Contact Maison Law for a free case consultation and allow Mr. Gasparian to go to work securing the compensation you need to get back on your feet again.