By: Mario Palermo of Palermo Law Group
If you are reading this, you may have recently received legal documents called “interrogatories” in the mail and are wondering what interrogatories are. Simply put, interrogatories are written questions that are answered under oath. In other words, you are swearing that your written responses are true.
Interrogatories are part of the “discovery” process where the parties obtain information about the case. Answers to interrogatories provide useful information regarding medical history and the damages the plaintiff incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
The next question that people often have is how much information do I need to include in these interrogatories? It is imperative that you give a complete and truthful answer. DO NOT HIDE ANYTHING! Provide answers that are responsive to the question even if you do not think it has anything to do with the case.
Why is it important to provide information even if you think it has nothing to do with the case? Because you are swearing that your responses are true. For example, let’s say you broke your leg in a motor vehicle collision and are asked to provide information regarding all treatment you have had in the last five years. A common mistake that people make is to only include information that is relevant to leg injuries. This may lead someone to not include information regarding surgery for a prior arm injury. The bottom line is the arm injury is in all likelihood totally irrelevant and a trial judge would never let the jury hear about it at trial. However, if you are asked to answer questions under oath and you do not include the information, then the defense can argue that the failure to reveal the arm injury is relevant because you were not truthful under oath and are therefore not a credible witness.
The bottom line is to do your very best to answer the questions. Keep in mind that most of the questions are standard questions that have been approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. It is your attorney’s job to determine whether a question is unfair or against the rules. It is your job to make sure that you provide complete and truthful answers so that your credibility remains intact. Remember, your credibility is your most important asset as a witness.