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What Are Interrogatories in a Car Accident Case

Months (or years) after you’ve been in a car accident your lawyer might file a lawsuit.  He will do this for a number of reasons, but most likely because the insurance company is not paying you what he thinks you deserve (or what he thinks he can get – whether you deserve it or not)

 

Whatever the reason may be, you may be wondering what happens after an accident case is filed.

 

Well, the defense counsel will be hired.  This is a law firm that the insurance company contracts with to provide legal counsel and litigation defense in the states where the insurance company operates.  

 

Since more insurance companies like Geico or State Farm operate in every state, they usually have a local counselor in each major jurisdiction in the state that they send cases to.  That lawyer will be handling hundreds of cases and gets to bill the insurance company by the hour.  

 

That lawyer is responsible for filing a responsive pleading once the suit is filed.  That pleading is called an Answer and is filed in court within certain timelines established by the laws of civil procedure in the state where the case if filed.  In many state jurisdictions that would be 15 – 30 days.  

 

With the Answer, the defense counselor will also send out written discovery.  


Defense lawyers love written discovery because it is an opportunity for them to bill their clients a lot of hours and it also gives them the opportunity to figure out some information about you.  Now, the reality is they will have a ton of information about you already, because, unless you have lived in a cave in the woods for most of your life, most of us have left a long digital record tracked by insurance companies, credit agencies, the US government, banks, google, facebook, etc…These digital footprints are all stored electronically and are accessible (for a fee) by defense counsel.  

 

Nevertheless, they also send out these written discovery questions called Requests for Production of Documents and Interrogatories.  

 

These are sets of questions designed to get answers to questions they mostly already know and to get answers to questions they don’t know so that they can follow up with some of the people that you name in that discovery.  

 

The types of questions you will typically see in Interrogatories are as follows:

 

what is your name, address and date of birth

name all the places where you have treated for any medical condition in the past ten years

were you ever convicted of a felony in the last ten years – if so, for what

 

The list goes on and on. 

 

However, you are not obligated to answer every question.  The questions are limited by the scope of the accident. Your lawyer will be writing down the answers in the lawyerly way that is required for these, and will note objections to inappropriate type questions, but you will be responsible for filling in the gaps that your lawyer may not know.  He will write it but you will tell him the content of say, where you had treated for the past ten years or if you were convicted of a felony.  

 

The most important thing is that you are honest.  Your lawyer will have an easier time working with bad facts (like you being a felon) than you lying about it in these responses.  Your credibility will then come into question and a jury (should your case go that far) will think you are wasting their time during jury duty to get you paid money you don’t actually deserve (even though you might actually deserve it). 

 

So, be honest.  Completely honest.  Remember the old saying: tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…

 

Once those questions are responded to and your attorney sends them back, he gets the turn to ask the defense counsel questions about the insured driver. 

 

Eventually, after both sets of questions are sent and responded to, depositions are usually scheduled where you will be asked questions in person.  They will refer to your prior responses, so that is ever the reason why to be honest (you don’t want to get caught in a lie). 

 

In conclusion, interrogatories are questions you’ll be asked to answer in writing before depositions are scheduled.  Just be sure to adhere to the old adage referenced above and you’ll do fine once you are in your deposition and at court.

 

If you have questions about a car accident case contact a personal injury lawyer, like the attorneys at Reddy Accident Law, for more information and the next steps.

 

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