What are Interrogatories?
If your personal injury dispute cannot settle quickly, you might need to file a lawsuit. One phase of most lawsuits is “discovery,” during which each side involved in the litigation tries to uncover as much helpful information as possible from each other. The goal of discovery is to allow each side to get all relevant facts out on the table so there are few surprises at trial.
One popular discovery technique is to ask written questions, called interrogatories. They must be answered under oath and are effective at uncovering certain information.
Florida’s Rules Governing Interrogatories
Discovery can be time-consuming, expensive, and harassing, so Florida puts clear limits on interrogatories. Rule 1.340 of the Rules of Civil Procedure limits the number of interrogatories to 30, including subparts. If a party needs more than 30 interrogatories—which is possible in complex personal injury cases—then they need to ask the court for permission.
The Rules also give a party only 30 days to answer the interrogatories and to serve those answers. If you can answer the interrogatory by producing a document, then you can produce the document instead or allow the other side to inspect it. For example, an interrogatory might ask about your insurance policy, in which case it might be easier to turn over a copy of the policy.
Sometimes, lawyers use interrogatories to obtain information they aren’t entitled to, such as privileged attorney-client information. In these cases, you can object to the question, though you need to serve the objection within the 30-day window.
Other times, interrogatories are vague or confusing, and you will not know what is being asked, so it is hard to answer properly. You can also object to vague interrogatories.
In our experience, some attorneys like to ask overbroad interrogatories that could take days to answer. These overbroad interrogatories are harassing and designed to bury your lawyer under paperwork, and we notify the judge when we think the other side is engaging in gamesmanship. If a party abuses the discovery process, they can be sanctioned.
What Information Can We Obtain?
There are some common questions that each side asks in interrogatories, such as:
- Describe all insurance policies that could cover the incident.
- Describe in detail how the accident unfolded.
- Identify any other party that you believe is responsible for the accident.
- Identify any criminal history that you have, such as felony convictions.
- Provide the names and addresses of any witnesses to the incident.
- Identify any expert witnesses you intend to call at trial.
Once your attorney receives this information, he can engage in a more thorough investigation of the accident. For example, the other side might reveal the identity of a witness you are unaware of. Your attorney will probably interview this person to uncover what they know and are prepared to testify to.
Experienced Trial Attorneys in Volusia County
Not all personal injury cases can settle, unfortunately. And when they can’t, you need a lawyer who understands the litigation process inside and out.
At Bundza & Rodriguez, our personal injury lawyers have tackled some of the hardest cases in Volusia County. We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to secure needed compensation for our clients.
For more information, please call 386-252-5170. We offer a free consultation to members of the public.