Preparing Your Accident Interrogatories
When you’ve endured an accident, how can you defend yourself from being at fault? When this happens, you may use a number of interrogatories to obtain information from the other party. These interrogatories are part of a discovery request, which aims to obtain all the details from the accident scene. In some cases, a discovery request may be sufficient enough to help prove your side or even settle without further court proceedings. In other cases, you may not be completely satisfied with the information you have uncovered and may want to uncover more. Individuals can attempt to pursue the evidence themselves or discuss their accident interrogatories with a knowledgeable Los Angeles car accident lawyer.
1. What Are Car Accident Interrogatories?
Interrogatories, also known as Interrogatories to a Defendant, are specific questions that one party asks of the other party. These questions may be in the form of a formal request sent to the opposing party’s attorney, or it may be in the form of in-person questions asked by representatives of each side. These individuals must “meet and confer” and attempt to settle the case and avoid going to trial. The purpose of discovery is to ensure everyone receives a fair trial by enabling the parties to learn about the evidence beforehand. It is the nature of a lawsuit for each side to have an ample amount of evidence to support their claim. The interrogatories help one party discover what the other party knows and how they will support their case.
There are two types of interrogatories: Admissions Interrogatories (or “Requests for Admissions”) and Conventional Interrogatories (or “Request for Production of Documents” or “Answers to Specific Questions”). In some cases, a claimant may want both answers and documents from the defendant from the very beginning of their case. In other cases, they may not need any answers until later in litigation—or until the defendant has had an opportunity to look over the evidence in the case.
Responding to interrogatories falls on the party being asked to produce the required information/documents. The opposing party must respond within 30 days—unless that deadline is extended by agreement.
2. Who Should Make Requests for Accident Interrogatories?
There are different rules on who can make discovery requests. This depends on the type of case, the burden of proof and whether one side is already involved in a settlement. Suppose the claimant is entitled to a portion of the other party’s recovery and they do not file suit against them before making the discovery request(s). In this case, there may be no need for this claimant to appear in court to object to or attend meetings with opposing counsel. Instead, they may send their interrogatories as a letter or fax (along with a copy of their complaint) explaining why they believe it would be beneficial for the opposing side to respond.
3. What Kind of Request for Accident Interrogatories May be Made?
An individual may ask for accident-related information (or production of documents) related to a specific incident. Otherwise, they may delay in assisting someone injured in an accident and allege negligence on their part. Here, the requestor can ask for accidents that happened in the past and those that occurred recently.
3.1. Recent Accidents
Accidents can potentially be discovered and investigated years after they happen (though the Statute of Limitations to file is 2 years). The most common example of this is someone who has experienced unknown injuries at the scene but later develops symptoms from these injuries. This individual may file a lawsuit against those responsible for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries. If the accident happened recently, one may want to obtain the most recent accident report or report of the case’s final disposition. The individual may find these documents on various websites or by even requesting a police report from the local police department. Though, if the client has a reputable personal injury attorney, this representative will be responsible for requesting the necessary evidence and documents from the supporting parties.
3.3. Accidents at a Distance
Suppose an individual was involved in a case where someone was injured due to an accident that happened at a distance. In that case, the individual may want to look into whether they can request and obtain reports from the local police department or medical examiner. These reports would contain information about how and when the accident occurred, who was involved and other information about the accident scene.
3.4. Witness Statements
Witness statements may contain more information than what is obvious, particularly in cases where the witness failed to report an injury at the time of the incident. Although these statements are taken in a deposition-like setting, often times an individual can obtain these reports from the personal injury attorney/law firm involved in the case.
3.5. Medical Records
To support the case, the claimant, or the claimant’s attorney, may request copies of medical records resulting from the accident. This may include screenings or test results, MRI reports, prescriptions, treatments and medical reimbursements.
3.6. Police Reports
Most police departments and municipalities have accident reports that can be obtained directly from their offices. However, not all law enforcement departments use the same report-requesting process. The claimant may want to contact the local department in which the accident occurred to access this information.
3.7. Personal Information and Case Records
After enduring an accident, Claimants may want to prove a certain allegation made against them. For example, if the individual missed work due to the accident, the Claimant or their Attorney may request records from their Employer. By doing so, this information may help support their case. The more information, the merrier.
4. What Questions May be Asked During a Deposition?
The defendant may have one or more attorneys present during the deposition to help answer questions. The individual should understand that some attorneys ask their clients leading questions that make it seem as if the client is revealing something for the first time when it was already known or suspected. In this case, the individual should prepare and confirm that all details that were discussed are correct. The individual should also be sure to provide any documentation or evidence that may help prove their claim.
Are Interrogatories Different from Depositions?
Interrogatories are different from depositions because they are a series of written questions that must be answered, while depositions are witness testimonies that are given under oath. With Interrogatories, generally the Attorney or law staff will review the form questions with the client. Depositions include the Attorneys and generally, a court reporter, who occasionally interjects to ask clarifying questions or just records responses word-for-word.
How Do I Prepare for a Deposition?
When becoming involved in a deposition, it’s important that you prepare yourself as much as possible before it happens. Here, the individual is recommended to gather all of the necessary information and go over the details in extent with their trusted personal injury lawyer. Their representative is expected to defend their rights and help them seek proper recovery.
In conclusion, with the right legal guidance, the individual should know which discovery information is needed, the accident details and when the discovery needs to be completed. It’s vital the individual involved in the accident is aware of the recovery process, including review of records and preparation for deposition requests. Fortunately, the hardworking and knowledgeable injury attorneys at JT Legal Group are well-versed in this area.
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