Three Things You Should Know About Interrogatories

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

When you have a pending personal injury claim, you might have to perform tasks that you have never done before, like participating in discovery and other pretrial actions. Interrogatories are a type of discovery that frequently gets used in personal injury lawsuits. You will want to work with a California personal injury attorney on your case and get their guidance on how to respond to interrogatories.

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Here are three things you should know about interrogatories in personal injury cases:

What Are Interrogatories?

Simply put, interrogatories are sets of questions that are asked of each party to a lawsuit. They are part of what’s known as written discovery.

You do not have to answer the interrogatories with the other side in the room. In fact, interrogatories are not live events. The other side will send you written questions about the personal injury case and your injuries. 

The interrogatories will also cover general matters, live where you live and work. Also, the interrogatories might ask for your medical history to see if anything in your past has a bearing on your injuries and current medical issues.

Let’s say that you got hurt in a car crash. The interrogatories might ask for detailed information about the collision, where you received medical treatment, your wounds, and any ongoing problems you are experiencing from your injuries.

Just as you must answer interrogatories served on you, you may also demand that the other party answer interrogatories about information relevant to the case.

How Do I Respond to Interrogatories?

Some people ignore interrogatories instead of answering them, but that could be a huge mistake. You must answer the questions or file objections to certain questions or the entire set of interrogatories. For example, you might not want to answer a question because it contains incorrect information like asking you to state who treated your broken leg, but you did not break your leg. 

You might object to the entire set of interrogatory questions if they are unduly burdensome and oppressive. By way of example, interrogatories with 750 questions are probably burdensome because of the excessive number of questions. When someone objects to a question, the lawyers usually have to go to court and argue the matter before the judge.

If you do not answer the questions by the deadline, which is usually about a month, the other side could ask the judge to order you to respond to the interrogatories. If you miss the second deadline, the judge could impose a fine against you or strike your pleadings. When the judge strikes a person’s pleadings, that typically means that they lose their case.

How Are Interrogatory Answers Used in a Lawsuit?

You are under oath when you respond to interrogatories. That means that your answers can be used against you at trial if your trial testimony differs from your interrogatory answers. If the other side reads or has your read aloud the relevant portions of your interrogatory answers into the record at trial, and there is a clear contradiction that you cannot justify, you will lose credibility.

The judge and jury will not have faith in what you say if you get impeached by your own words at trial. They might have doubts about everything you say, not just the specific thing that might have been inaccurate.

Your California personal injury attorney can answer any additional questions you might have about interrogatories in your case. For help with your case reach out to our office today, we gladly offer a free consultation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.