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What Are Interrogatories For A Car Accident Claim?

Car accident claim

When you suffer injuries in a Texas car crash, you have the right to sue the person or persons whose negligence, carelessness, poor judgment or outright wrongdoing caused the accident and therefore your injuries. After you hire an experienced local car accident attorney to represent you and file the lawsuit on your behalf, he or she will undoubtedly want to send interrogatories to the defendant’s attorney. This is part of the initial stage or litigation, called the discovery process.


As its name implies, discovery is the formal process wherein opposing attorneys exchange information relevant to the issues involved in the lawsuit, the evidence each has regarding these issues, and the witnesses each intends to call should the case proceed to trial.

The purpose of discovery is three-fold:

  1. To prepare for trial
  2. To help the parties reach a pre-trial settlement
  3. To avoid prejudicial and unfair surprises by either side


Interrogatories are one form of discovery. Given that “interrogatory” and “question” are synonymous, interrogatories are a formal list of questions that your attorney sends to the defendant’s attorney or that the defendant’s attorney sends to yours. Each jurisdiction has its own rules regarding interrogatories, and both sides must abide by these rules.

Texas Interrogatory Rules

In Texas, Civil Procedure Rule 197.1 governs interrogatories. Some of its provisions include the following:

  • That the interrogatories must be written
  • That there must be no more than 25 of them
  • That they must ask only for facts, evidence or information relevant to the issues in the lawsuit
  • That they may not ask for any privileged information
  • That they must be served on opposing counsel at least 30 days prior to the end of the discovery period, which in a Texas car accident case is generally 180 days after the lawsuit is filed

Civil Procedure Rule 197.2 goes on to set forth the rules regarding responses to interrogatories, including the following:

  • That the responding party must serve written responses to the interrogatories to opposing counsel within 30 days of receipt
  • That these responses are under oath and must be verified; that is, signed in front of a notary public
  • That the responding party may object to one or more of the interrogatories if he or she believes that it or they go beyond the scope of allowable questions


The defendant has the right to object to any of your interrogatories that he or she believes are inappropriate or ask for privileged information. He or she must state the specific reason or reasons why he or she is making each objection. The court will then decide whether or not the interrogatories objected to are, in fact, objectionable. If so, the defendant will not be required to answer them. If not, then the court will instruct him or her to answer them.

Failure to Respond

If the defendant fails to respond to your interrogatories within 30 days of receipt, your attorney can file a motion to compel discovery with the court, stating the reasons why the court should compel the defendant to answer. If the court grants this motion, it will instruct the defendant’s attorney to file such responses forthwith. If this doesn’t produce the needed result, the court can then impose sanctions against the defendant.

Sample Interrogatories In a Car Accident Claim

Keeping in mind that interrogatories can only ask questions relevant to the issues involved germane to the underlying lawsuit, your auto accident attorney likely will ask such questions as the following:

  • Please state your full name, date of birth, social security number, residence addresses for the past ten years, current employer and current work address.
  • Are you the registered owner of the [description of the car] involved in an accident on [date of accident] at [accident location]?
  • Please state the names and addresses of all insurance carriers covering this car and the policy limits of all such policies.
  • Were you driving this car at the time of the accident?
  • If yes, why were you driving on this particular road at the time of the accident?
  • Had you had anything alcoholic to drink in the two hours preceding the accident?

As you can see, interrogatories need not be questions requiring only a yes or no answer or even questions at all.

Interrogatory Disadvantages

Despite the fact that answers to interrogatories must be verified, ensuring their truthfulness, such answers are usually prepared by the defendant’s attorney, not the defendant himself or herself. Consequently, the answers are often couched in legalese, not in the defendant’s own words. Your attorney may therefore wish to depose the defendant directly.


A deposition is like a formal personal interview of the defendant that your attorney conducts. It can take place in person, via video conferencing, or by telephone. In any event, the defendant’s attorney will be present, as well as a court reporter or other professional who will make a transcript or video recording of the proceedings.

The defendant will be under oath during the deposition the same as he or she would be when testifying in court. In addition, his or her attorney can object to any questions he or she thinks are inappropriate or prejudicial to his or her client.

While entailing considerably more expense than when submitting interrogatories, the advantages to taking the defendant’s deposition include not only the fact that he or she will be using his or her own words to answer your attorney’s questions, but also that the deposition can be used as evidence against him or her if he or she says anything at trial that contradicts what he or she said during the deposition.

Additional Discovery Documents

Other types of discovery documents that your car accident attorney may wish to file in your case include the following:

  • Request for Admissions
  • Request for Disclosures
  • Request for Production of Documents

As with interrogatories, each of these discovery types carries its own rules.

The Importance of Superior Legal Representation

If all of the above seems complicated to you, that’s because it is. Discovery of any type requires detailed knowledge of not only the applicable law, but also of the specific types of discovery available, including interrogatories, their rules and their uses. That is why it’s so important to have an experienced local attorney, like the ones on our team at Fielding Law, in your corner and working on your behalf. We practice only personal injury law, including car accident claims. We therefore know how to aggressively represent you in your car accident claim to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

To date, our recoveries for our injured clients include:

  • $1,250,000 for a rear-end collision
  • $505,000 for a failure to yield accident
  • $495,000 for a work vehicle collision
  • $347,000 for a freeway rear-end collision
  • $200,000 for a t-bone accident
  • $150,000 for a red light violation accident

We are not afraid to take on the largest insurance companies and most recalcitrant defendants. To this end, we treat every case as though it will end in a full-blown jury trial and conduct the necessary discovery to support your claim.

So contact Fielding Law today. Your initial consultation is free, and we never charge you an attorney’s fee unless and until we successfully resolve your case.