If you are injured in an accident and file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident, you may feel overwhelmed by the legal process and wonder what you should expect. One of the first things that will happen is that your lawyer will receive what are called interrogatories from the lawyer for the other party in the case. Your lawyer will also send interrogatories to the other side. But what exactly are interrogatories?
What Are Interrogatories?
Interrogatories are a part of the discovery process in a lawsuit. Discovery is one of the first phases of a lawsuit, and it involves each party gathering information about the facts of the case. Interrogatories are written questions that each party must answer truthfully and to the best of their ability. Under Virginia law, only a certain number of questions are allowed, and you must answer within a limited period of time. Many of the questions asked will be similar in any personal injury case, while some will be specific to your case in particular.
Your attorney will help you answer these questions truthfully, but without disclosing any more information than what was requested. They may also object to certain questions for a variety of reasons, such as asking for information protected by attorney-client privilege, asking a question that is too broad or general, or otherwise asking for more information than you are required to disclose.
What Will They Ask?
Many of the questions you will be asked interrogatories are standard. Insurance companies handle lawsuits on a daily basis, and much of the information they want to know is the same for most cases. You can expect questions in a few broad categories.
These questions are simply to establish your identity and basic personal details. They will ask for such things as your full name, any other names you may have been known by (like a maiden name), your date of birth, your address and phone number, Social Security number, marital status, and number of dependents.
You will also be asked questions about your employment, especially if you are claiming lost wages as a part of your lawsuit. They will probably ask for your current employer and job title, your job duties, and your salary information. They may also ask about your past employers, especially if you haven’t been at your current job for very long.
As you would expect, many of the questions will be about the accident. They will want to know how the accident happened from your perspective. If you are claiming the other party’s actions caused your injuries, they will want to know the details of why and what facts and evidence you have to support your claims. They will also ask about any witnesses who saw the accident, their names and contact information if you have them, whether you spoke to or contacted them, and what they said, if so. In addition, they will want the same kind of information about anyone else who was present at the scene of the accident, even if they did not directly witness it.
The interrogatories will ask in detail about your injuries, including the exact body parts and types of injuries that resulted from the accident. Since this is likely the reason you filed the lawsuit, they will want this information to be as specific and detailed as possible. In addition to your injuries themselves, they will ask about the medical treatment you received following the accident. They will want to know what kind of procedures were performed, what hospital and/or doctor’s offices you went to, who your doctors were, any medication you were prescribed, and any other important details about your treatment.
They may also ask about your past medical history prior to the accident. In particular, they will want to know about any other times you injured the same body parts that were injured in the accident.
Can They Ask That?
Some of the questions in your interrogatories may seem overly personal, but they are a normal part of the process of a personal injury lawsuit. Keep in mind that, while this is an unusual situation in your life, insurance companies go through this process all the time. Their interest is not to embarrass you or make you uncomfortable. They only want to gather all the information they can about the case to make the best argument for their side.
However, making the best argument for them means paying you as little as possible in compensation, so there is reason to be cautious. This is why you want an experienced attorney to guide you through this process. Your attorney will help you answer what is required without giving away any extra information that could hurt your case. They will also object to any questions or parts of questions that overstep what the other side is allowed to ask for.
What Comes Next?
Just like you, the other side will also be required to answer interrogatories about the details of the accident and other relevant facts. The lawyers for both sides will also request documents that they believe are relevant to the case. They will likely involve similar sorts of information to what was asked in the interrogatories. For example, the lawyers for the other side will probably ask for your medical records from the accident and any other treatment you received for your injuries.
Dealing with a lawsuit may seem daunting, and answering interrogatories is only an early step in the process, but your attorney is there to help. Things like interrogatories are one of the key reasons that it’s important to have an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process. In reality, most of the details of writing up your answers to the interrogatories and making sure everything is completed and sent correctly will be taken care of by your attorney’s office.
Don’t go up against the insurance companies on your own. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call the experienced attorneys at Geoff McDonald and Associates today for a free consultation. You can reach us at (804) 888-8888 or contact us through our website.