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Personal Injury Interrogatories in California

Personal injury interrogatories in California are written questions that parties to a civil dispute are allowed to send to the other side to request certain information. Under California law, there are basically two types of interrogatories:

Types of Interrogatories in California

(1) Specially Prepared Interrogatories

These are questions drafted by the attorney and can ask for any information required to be disclosed. They have to be separately stated and not “lumped together” and they have to ask questions that are “reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” These discovery requests are governed by California Rules of Civil Procedure 2030, et.seq. and, “may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. . ..” In “Unlimited Jurisdiction” (i.e. a case where the party’s claimed damages likely exceed $25,000) there is an initial limit of 35 interrogatories that may be asked, however, with a simple “declaration” specifying the need for more (which is routinely done), more questions can be asked. In “Limited Jurisdiction” cases (i.e. where the amount in controversy is less than $25,000) there is a limit of 35 TOTAL (combined with other discovery requests) but, a party can ask the judge to allow more upon showing of good cause.

(2) Form Interrogatories

These are questions that have been pre-approved by the Judicial Council of California, which is an administrative arm of the California Court system in charge of developing legal procedures by which the court system and litigants operate. These elicit information regarding the background of the parties (e.g. name, address, prior addresses, employment history) and information regarding the claims of the parties and any defenses. For example, in an auto accident claim, they ask the following:

  • The name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of each owner or person who had possession of any involved vehicle.
  • Identity of people who had control of the vehicle or gave consent to drive.
  • The address where the trip began and the intended destination and route taken.
  • Whether there were any malfunctions or defects in any part of the automobile that may have contributed to the incident.
  • Whether the wreck occurred at an intersection and, if so, the color and functioning of the traffic lights before, during and after the incident.
  • The speed, direction and location of the persons involved.
  • The identity of all drivers, passengers and witnesses to the mishap.
Who may Send Interrogatories Under CA law?

Both the party making the claim (the “plaintiff”) and the party defending the claim (the “defendant”) may serve interrogatories on the other side requesting information. Both sides have a duty to provide full and complete information to the questions asked but, they may also raise legal objections to all or part of a question and refuse to answer that question or part thereof.

What can a Party do if the Other Side Refuses to Answer?

First, the party must attempt to “meet and confer” to resolve the issues. This means that there must be a meaningful attempt by phone calls, letters, emails, etc. to narrow the issues and attempt to obtain an answer to the question. If the parties still don’t agree about whether the law compels an answer or an objection is valid, they may then file a “Motion to Compel” further responses and have a judge decide whether additional answers must be made.

How are Interrogatory Responses Used in Personal Injury Cases?

Interrogatories are often used as a preliminary device to obtain basic information for which follow up discovery can be conducted. For example, interrogatories often ask for the identification (name, address, and phone number) of third party witnesses to the auto accident or other incident that caused the bodily harm or death. This information can then be used to serve that person or persons with a subpoena that would require them to appear for a formal deposition where the witness could be asked specific details about what they saw or heard prior to during or following the incident. This would be in a formal setting where a court reporter could record the questions and answers.

Client Reviews
I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.
I believe I made the best choice with Steven M Sweat, Personal Injury. I was very reluctant to go forward with my personal injury claim. I had a valid claim and I needed a professional attorney to handle it. I felt so much better when I let Steven take my case. His team did everything right and I am very satisfied. Stia P.
I have to say that Steve has been exemplary! I met Steve at a point with my case that I was ready to give up. He took the time and dealt with all of my concerns. Most importantly, he was present and listened to what I was going through. He was able to turn things around, put me and my case on the right track! The results were better that expected! Highly recommend!! Cody A.