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Definition - What does Interrogatory mean?

If a civil action claim has been filed, both the defendant and the plaintiff will be sent a list of questions as part of the discovery process. The discovery allows for an exchange of information between each party involved in the personal injury lawsuit. The list of questions is called the interrogatory. Lawyers may help their clients answer interrogatories, and the number of questions is generally limited to thirty to forty questions, unless the court allows more.

All questions are answered under oath. Giving false information or committing perjury while answering questions within the interrogatory is considered a crime and could subject the plaintiff or defendant to criminal or civil penalties. All questions must generally be answered within 30 days.

General Interrogatory questions

Questions asked in the interrogatory vary based on the type of personal injury claim. For instance, if the lawsuit is for a car accident the defendant may ask about the types of injuries the plaintiff received, how much compensation they are seeking, the types of medical treatments they have received, whether the defendant has filed for unemployment, bankruptcy or workers' compensation, what types of medications they are taking and whether or not they consumed any alcoholic beverages or took any drugs or medications within 12 hours of the incident described in the complaint.

Interrogatories may be very personal and seek detailed information about the claimant's mental and physical history. The court gives both the plaintiff and the defendant broad latitude in formulating their interrogatory questions.

Crafting interrogatory questions

All interrogatory questions should allow for brevity and clarity. Questions should be crafted carefully and should avoid vague descriptions. One question should be asked per interrogatory and each interrogatory question should be answered fully and completely. If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit talk to a lawyer for more information about crafting interrogatories.

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