What are Interrogatories?
If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you will likely be served with at least one set of interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions from one party involved in the lawsuit to another. The party to whom the interrogatories are sent must answer the questions under penalty of perjury.
Interrogatories contain who, what, why, where, and when questions and are used to obtain information during the discovery phase of litigation. There are two types of interrogatories:
- Form Interrogatories. These are standardized questions, and as the name suggests, they will often appear on a form with the questions to which you must respond indicated by a checkmark.
- Special Interrogatories. These are more tailored requests designed to elicit specific information and are often typed out in sentence form on pleading paper.
Regardless of the type of interrogatories, you must give answers that are straightforward, and as complete as possible. To the best of your knowledge, the answers must be accurate. You will be required to verify that you are providing responses that are true and correct under penalty of perjury.
Time Limit to Respond to Interrogatories
If you received the interrogatories by mail, you have 35 days to respond. If they were personally delivered, your responses must be served within 30 days, unless an extension of time is granted by the party that served them.
Objections to Interrogatories
Answering interrogatories can be complicated and tricky. You are required to provide certain information that is relevant to the case, but there is no reason to give information beyond that which is relevant and discoverable. In fact, providing too much information may end up being detrimental to your case. Additionally, many times the interrogatories are written in such a way as to subject them to valid objections – meaning you may not have to answer them at all, as they are written. For example, the requests may be:
- Compound. A compound interrogatory contains more than one question. An example would be: Do you own a green or blue bicycle? In essence, this is asking two questions: whether you own a blue bicycle and whether you own a green bicycle.
- Unintelligible. Sometimes a special interrogatory may be written so poorly that the respondent has no way of figuring out what the question is.
- Not likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. You are only required to provide answers that contain information that will be admissible evidence if the case were to go to trial. Many interrogatories request information that is outside this scope.
These are just a few examples of the types of objections to interrogatories that can be made. There are many more. Valid objections to discovery requests are designed to protect your legal rights and your privacy.
Because there are so many traps a person can fall into when answering interrogatories or attempting to navigate discovery requests on their own, it is good advice to seek an experienced injury lawyer to help you with the case.
Watch the YouTube video below with tips on how to choose a trustworthy Northern California injury lawyer.
Roseville Personal Injury Lawyer
Thanks for reading as we take a look at some of the complexities involved with litigation and discovery. My name is Ed Smith, and I have been a Roseville personal injury attorney for more than 38 years. As an advocate for injured Northern Californians with decades of experience, I urge you to reach out to my firm if you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of the actions of a negligent party. To speak with a skilled injury lawyer and to receive compassionate, free, friendly advice, call (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400. Alternatively, you may fill out our contact form online.
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