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What You Should Know About Interrogatories

You may have heard of the word interrogatories before in the context of the legal process but don’t know exactly what it means. If so, you’re not alone. Many people often confuse the word as a synonym for interrogation. Unlike an interrogation, however, interrogatories are written questions that require answers under oath. It’s important to understand how to respond to interrogatories. That’s where a personal injury attorney can come into play. 

Interrogatories occur during the discovery process of a lawsuit. They are served by the opposing party who wants to obtain information from you. A party’s answers to interrogatories are often used in that party’s deposition. A deposition is a process in which you are sworn in before being asked questions by an attorney (who usually represents the opposing party). The attorney may use your interrogatory answers as an outline for the deposition or use inconsistent answers you’ve given in your interrogatories to make you seem untruthful.

Identifying Useful Information

Interrogatories are very helpful in that they can identify information concerning a party to a lawsuit. By receiving answers to certain questions it can make the task of preparing for trial much easier. 

While interrogatories are not all the same, there are common questions that you may be asked. Such questions usually pertain to your background:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your place of residence
  • Your educational history
  • Your work history
  • Marital status
  • Whether you have children

If the lawsuit seeks damages for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident, other common questions include:

  • Details surrounding the accident in question
  • Injuries suffered from the accident
  • The medical professional(s) who treated you
  • The location of your treatment
  • Any issues related to your injury or injuries

Answer or Object

There’s no doubt that interrogatories can be very intimidating. Unfortunately, however, you don’t have the option to ignore them. If you don’t respond to them within a certain amount of time, you can be ordered to do so. But if you still fail to comply with a judge’s orders you can be slapped with a fine or could even lose your case if a judge strikes your pleadings. 

But while you can’t ignore interrogatories, you may be able to object to one or more interrogatories on several grounds. One ground is that an interrogatory may be “unduly burdensome.” This means generally that to enable you to give an answer to the question, it would entail investing an unreasonable amount of time, money, or other resources such that you shouldn’t have to answer. However, even if you find certain questions to be unduly burdensome, you are still obligated to answer those that are not. Usually your attorney will handle the objections.

In Michigan, you generally have 28 days after being served with the interrogatories to provide responses and any objections to the interrogatories.

Although you aren’t questioned in person, it’s just as important that you only provide truthful answers since you are still under oath. In fact, you can be found in contempt of court or can have your answers used to impeach you during trial should you be caught lying. Therefore, it is extremely important that you have an attorney who can guide you in answering interrogatories.

The Michigan Personal Injury Attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. Can Help

At Miller & Tischler, P.C., our team of knowledgeable and experienced Michigan personal injury attorneys can help.  We always have our clients’ best interest at heart and will help to fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!