is a fancy legal word for written question. Interrogatories are
written questions that a party to a lawsuit must answer after a
case is filed.
interrogatories you answer are set forth in the New Jersey Court
Rules. In any personal injury case, you will answer Form
A. If you are injured by medical malpractice, you will also
answer Form A(1).
In most Product Liability cases, you will also answer Form
your car has been damaged, and the insurance company has refused
to pay for it, then you would answer Form
B.These claims are almost always paid soon after the collision,
and are therefore not a part of the lawsuit.
Court Rules allow for up to 10 additional interrogatories to be
asked, in addition to these sets of questions. They are often improperly
asked, whether they assume facts that don’t exist or for some
other reason(s). Therefore, like anything else in litigation, these
should be reviewed carefully with your attorney.Therefore, like
anything else in litigation, I will explain each step to you.
are deadlines in which these interrogatories have to be answered,
and the deadlines are getting more and more strict. Do not delay
in giving this information to your lawyer.
What is a Deposition?
deposition is a hearing where you are asked questions by a defense
attorney after being placed under oath. It is almost always at one
of the lawyer’s offices, but sometimes it takes place at a
courthouse or some other location for purposes of convenience. You’re
first sworn in by this stenographer (who types everything spoken
into a booklet), and then the questioning begins.
counsel will begin with some instruction as to how depositions proceed.
You will be informed that answers must be spoken, to not begin your
answer until the defense attorney has finished asking it, and other
basic ground rules that I would have already explained to you. Some
defense attorneys might say that they are not there to trick you,
and some of them actually mean that. Most of the defense attorneys
are competent and skilled professionals, but some of them try to
trick you with improper questions. Try to listen carefully to the
questions before answering them.
that you will be nervous about this, but that’s common as
this is probably something you are not familiar with. In addition,
you will be questioned by the trial attorney hired by the defendant’s
insurance company, and they have a job to do – for the most
part this means to eliminate or reduce your compensation. This can
be accomplished by discrediting you. But keep in mind that this
is a simple hearing and your are going to be asked questions about
accident, your work and school histories, your course of medical
treatment, your life as it was before the injury, and how your life
has changed because of the accident.
you don’t remember an answer, then that is your answer. If
you don’t know the answer to a question, then you answer that
you don’t know. Simply testify as to what you know, and do
the best you can without guessing at anything. For example, the
defense attorney has all of the documents in front of him/her, including
medical bills with the dates you saw the doctors. If he/she asks
when was the first time you saw Dr. X and if you remember the date,
say so. If you don’t remember exactly but you recall it was
within a week or two of the collision, then that’s your estimate.
But by no means should you guess. Guessing, even in attempt to be
helpful, is not truthful and in effect may be the wrong answer.
Answer the best you can, truthfully, without guessing.
What is the Verbal Threshold?
not choose “verbal threshold” on your automobile policy!
choose “no threshold” on your automobile policy!
Verbal Threshold, also known as lawsuit threshold, or limitation
on lawsuit option, is a terrible selection on your automobile insurance
policy. This cheap coverage significantly limits your rights, your
spouse’s rights, and the rights of your children.
people don’t know what this is until I explain it to them
when they are in my office, after a tragedy
has occurred. By having this cheaper ‘verbal threshold’
on your car insurance you have probably pre-waived your right to
a jury trial as well as your spouse’s right and your children’s
rights [if they were injured] as your selection applies to spouses
and your children who live with you.
case will only get to a trial if significant legal obstacles are
these legal hurdles are not met your case will be kicked out by
a judge before ever going to trial, and this is true even though:
The defendant admitted causing the crash;
The defendant was drunk or high at the time of the collision;
Your car was totaled;
You [your spouse/children] are in pain everyday and your injuries
limit what you are able to do; and/or
[your spouse/children] have permanent injuries!
this, why would you potentially give up rights in a situation that
you can’t predict? Some crashes are minor, and don’t
cause much harm, but too many others are serious.
mother has “no threshold” in her car insurance policy,
not because I want her to spend a few hundred dollars more a year
on her auto insurance, but because I want to make sure her rights
are protected if something happened to her. I recommend the same
to you, your family and your friends.
Threshold = Bad
No Threshold = Good
If your insurance company or agent pushes this lousy “verbal
threshold” coverage to you, I find that suspicious. Insurance
agents work on commission, a percentage of the sale, why would they
be trying to sell you something cheaper? I also work on commission
called a contingency fee - what if I told you not to accept an offer
and told you to take less? In that example I would not be doing
you a service, and neither is your broker if they are trying to
sell you this garbage.
Why Do I have to see the defense attorney’s doctor?
lawsuit’s purpose is to obtain fair compensation for your
injuries, and the other harm or damages caused to you. In order
to prove the nature and extent of your injuries, one or more of
your doctors will have to testify at trial.
defense attorney has a job to do, and part of it involves hiring
an expert witness for trial. Their doctor is hired to take a look
at you and write a report for the defense of your lawsuit. You are
not their patient. These doctors are not employed to treat you,
or help you in any way for that matter – they are expert witnesses
for hire, ultimately to testify for the defense at trial.
attorneys hire doctors who make good witnesses. They have very good
credentials, and are professional testifiers. They are often board
certified, Ivy League-trained orthopedists with privileges in a
hospital, and are from the same pool of experts that I see over
and over again. Not surprisingly, they have the same opinions over
and over again. Their opinions almost always contradict the opinions
of your treating doctor(s) and support the defense attorney’s
you are not injured, or
or if you are hurt, you have healed and have no permanent injury,
you do have a permanent injury but it was caused by something
else besides the defendants negligence – they may blame
your condition on age, another accident, or anything else besides
the defendant’s carelessness.
theory, the defense attorney’s entitlement to such an examination
makes sense, but in reality it more often than not further victimizes
you. You may be insulted by how brief their “examination”
is, but I’m sure you will be more insulted by what they write
in the report to the defense attorney.
you are obligated to see their lawyer’s expert, and please
give them the benefit of the doubt, and arrive on-time for the appointment,
and bring whatever films or x-rays you have in your possession.
If the doctor wishes to take x-rays or any other test, decline to
do so – this is not for treatment and it is an unnecessary
exposure to radiation (which you have already undergone). If they
insist, please have them call my office while you are there. If
their doctor requests copies of a certain film let him/her know
that you will contact me and I will try to obtain whatever information
this doctor requests, within reason.
My case is scheduled for arbitration, what does that mean?
is a general term, which is a hearing where a dispute is settled
by an arbitrator. There are many types of arbitrations, for example,
some are binding decisions and some are not. The type of arbitration
I described here is a hearing in your civil case, which is scheduled
by the court, and takes place at the courthouse.
court-scheduled arbitration is an informal hearing. The court lists
a number of cases on particular days, and the first cases ready
go first. Once the case is ready, the attorneys go into a small
room with a conference table and chairs, and speak to the arbitrator.
Each attorney explains to the arbitrator what the case is about,
which means that I explain what your damages are and whatever the
defendant did/didn’t do, and the other attorney(ies) explain
that the doctor they hired wrote a report saying that you weren’t
hurt, that your injuries already existed, that your injuries were
caused by something else, or some combination of these arguments.
is the arbitrator’s call whether or not he or she will hear
testimony from you. Although you may be present in the courthouse,
that doesn’t mean that you will testify. Assuming that you
are called into the room by the arbitrator, either the arbitrator
or I will begin the questioning. The questioning will be limited
because the arbitrator, the other attorney(ies) and I have already
gone over the issues in the case, and your testimony would serve
to supplement some portions of it.
You should be familiar in general with the facts of the accident, the course of treatment that you have undergone, and any treatment that you are still undergoing (if any). Most importantly, you should be able to communicate the continuing problems that you have from the injuries, your present complaints and how they affect your life.
At the end of the brief hearing, the arbitrator will issue an award. The arbitrator will decide percentages of liability or fault, and will also make a determination as to what he/she feels the damages are in your case. This is not a binding arbitration, and not a final decision. Both sides have 30 days to eliminate this award, and in order to do so, it is a matter of sending out a $200.00 check and completing and serving a simple form. However, if neither side eliminates the award within 30 days, then the arbitration award becomes binding. We will discuss the fairness of the award after the arbitration hearing. As always, if you have any questions or need directions to the courthouse please call my office. Thank you.
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Essex County Attormey | Personal Injury Lawyer
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