Personal injury lawsuits related to car accidents pass through a number of stages before the matter gets to court. Some of these stages include filing a complaint and answer with the court and then the discovery stage begins. During the discovery stage, information is exchanged regarding the facts of the accident, injuries and other aspects of the case. One way of doing this is with a deposition which uses interrogatories. This article will discuss what interrogatories are, the information exchanged and general limits on interrogatories.
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, “interrogatories are original questions sent by one party to another as part of the pretrial investigation process, called discovery. Interrogatories must be answered in writing under oath or under penalty of perjury within a specified time.” So, put simply interrogatories are a written set of questions that one party in a lawsuit brings to the other. The other party must respond to the questions in writing and under oath within a certain timeframe. Take note that interrogatories are not always phrased as questions.
With respect to a car accident case, it is likely that each party has a different version of how the accident occurred; therefore, car accident interrogatories will usually center on specific factors, such as driving speed, drug or alcohol use that might have contributed to the accident. As such, interrogatories allow each party to tell their side of the story in order to best prepare their own case. For example, interrogatories sent from the plaintiff to the defendant in a car accident might include the following:
State, in your own words, how the accident occurred.
Provide the year, make and model and current registration of the vehicle you were driving at the time of the accident.
Provide the company address and policy number of any automobile insurance policy of the vehicle involved in the accident.
How fast were you going at the time of the accident?
Within the past 10 years have you been involved in any other car accidents as the driver? If so,please provide the date, nature of the accident and any related legal outcome.
At the time of the accident were you taking any medication? If so, provide the name of the medication, dosage and last time taken prior to the accident.
List every traffic violation you have had in the past 10 years.
In the 24 hours prior to the accident had you consumed any alcohol? If so, please list the type, amount and time consumed.
State the exact location where the accident occurred.
Where were you coming from and traveling to when the accident occurred?
With regard to questions that may be asked by the defendant, these may include questions related to the plaintiff’s injuries and relevant medical treatment as well as potential pre-existing injuries in the same area of the body. It should be noted that interrogatories are limited to a specific number of questions. The time for sending responses varies from one state to the next.
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