Anytime a lawsuit is filed, there is a period of time during which the two sides exchange information about the case. This period is called discovery. During discovery, one tool available to all attorneys is interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered under oath.
As a plaintiff’s attorney, I use interrogatories in every case to obtain information about the available insurance coverage, the defendant’s version of what happened in the accident, and any witnesses that the insurance company may reply upon in defending the case.
Defense attorneys use interrogatories as well, and they use them to learn more than just the facts of the case. Of course, they ask about how the accident happened and what your injuries are, but they also ask about your medical and health history, your employment history, and more. If you are claiming emotional distress they can ask about your mental health history. They can ask if you’ve been arrested or filed for bankruptcy.
Many of these questions can seem unduly intrusive, and not at all relevant to your claims. While that is true, the rules governing interrogatories are different from the rules of evidence, which govern what might be admissible at trial. In interrogatories, the insurance company lawyer can ask any questions that are “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” This is a very broad standard, and it means they will be able to ask many questions that they would never be allowed to ask at trial.
The intrusive nature of interrogatories is something that your attorney should discuss with you before you make the decision to file a lawsuit in your case. The litigation process can be difficult and unpleasant, but sometimes the insurance company leaves us no choice but to file a lawsuit if you want to get a full recovery for your injuries.
If you have any questions about interrogatories, or anything related to the personal injury claims process, please explore our website, or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.