Virginia Car Crash

Understanding Interrogatories in Virginia Auto Accident Cases

In a car accident lawsuit, “interrogatories” refer to a list of questions for which you’ll need to provide written answers as part of the process of gathering evidence, called “discovery.” Your Virginia car accident lawyer may send interrogatories to other parties involved in the lawsuit, and you may receive a list of questions as well. 

Evidence Gathering in an Accident Lawsuit

When a lawsuit is filed after a car accident, lawyers will begin gathering evidence related to the crash. This phase of the case is called “discovery,” which means discovering all the evidence that relates to the case and putting it together to tell the story of what happened in the accident.

Discovery and interrogatories are subject to rules of civil procedure, which stipulate that the material must be relevant to the case and not be privileged. For example, the information may not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Depending on what type of accident occurred, evidence can include:

  • Photographs and videos related to the accident, such as:
    • Vehicles or stationary objects related to a crash
    • Injuries sustained in the accident
    • Intersections, signs, and/or other roadway evidence related to the accident (skid marks, road damage, guard rails, structures, etc.)
    • Video depositions
    • Surveillance or camera footage
    • Expert testimony provided via video
  • Physical evidence related to the accident
  • Documents related to the accident, including:
    • Medical records, treatment plans, documentation of visits and care provided
    • Witness statements
    • Receipts and other documentation of costs and payments
    • Transcripts of statements or depositions 
    • Police reports
    • Insurance documents
    • Written expert testimony 
    • Interrogatories from all involved parties

The Importance of Answering Interrogatories in a Car Accident Lawsuit

Interrogatories are a list of questions to obtain further information related to the case before a potential trial. If an accident lawsuit is not settled out of court and looks like it will proceed to a trial, the involved parties’ lawyers typically send these written questions to confirm facts. This helps lawyers build their case and determine the relevant facts during trial.

You are required to answer all the questions in interrogatories entirely and truthfully to the best of your ability and provide the answers in the time requested. You are considered to be under oath when answering, so you must provide truthful answers, or else you could face fines or even jail time.

How Interrogatories Are Used

While being truthful is important, some questions could be worded in such a way as to easily cause your answer to be misconstrued, shifting some or all of the fault for the car accident (“negligence”) onto you. It’s essential to be truthful but not speculative—do not guess, and do not offer more information than what is asked.

When a lawyer sends interrogatories to the opposing party, they are attempting to reveal points that support what the opposing party believes to be true. Having this information is crucial to the lawyer’s process in preparing for trial. But these are not impartial questions. How you answer interrogatories could be critical to the outcome of your accident case. In addition, if your case goes to trial, you may be asked to explain or expand upon your answers to interrogatories during the trial. 

If you receive interrogatories from an insurance company or a lawyer, we recommend working with an experienced Virginia accident lawyer on your answers. 

Why You Should Hire a Virginia Auto Accident Lawyer

Experienced Virginia car accident lawyers understand the rules of procedure and may be able to help you evaluate whether or not requests for evidence during the discovery period—including questions included on interrogatories—are relevant and appropriate to support evidence-gathering efforts. They might even object to you answering certain questions if they don’t seem relevant or appropriate and can work with you on how to answer written interrogatories (and help you prepare to answer questions verbally in court if necessary) without jeopardizing your case.

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Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
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