In a personal injury case, the first step in conducting discovery is posing interrogatories and requests for documents. Both plaintiffs and defendants can make these requests of one another, so all parties to an action should be prepared to respond.
Interrogatories are written questions asked by the opposing party that help to clarify the issues in a lawsuit. Plaintiffs and defendants alike may pose up to forty interrogatories (or more with permission of the Court). The party answering the interrogatories must respond to the questions, either by answering or objecting to the question in writing. Answering parties must swear to their answers, classifying the interrogatories statements as made “under oath”.
Interrogatories serve a very important function in the discovery process. They help narrow the disputed facts at issue in a lawsuit. By understanding each other’s position regarding details of an incident, the parties can focus their arguments and energy on only the disputed points.
Parties typically issue request for documents for all relevant documents pertaining to the facts and damages of a case. Documents in this context may include invoices, reports, emails, text messages, and other types of documentary evidence. The types of documents that may be requested at this stage are voluminous.
Like interrogatories, document requests help to narrow the issues in dispute. Further, documentary evidence is necessary to substantiate claims for damages and other factual allegations.
Some interrogatories and requests for documents may be inappropriate. Whether due to poor drafting, requesting of irrelevant or privileged material, or many other reasons, some requests are subject to objection. When opposing counsel oversteps with a request, your attorney will advise you on where objections are appropriate.
After evidence has been collected by way of interrogatories and requests for documents, your attorney will review the evidence. With the high-level understanding of the lawsuit provided by this evidence, the parties will then seek more in-depth information. This is done through depositions.