Interrogatories are part of the discovery process in a civil case. An interrogatory is a series of written questions asked by one party to another, which must be answered in writing. In Maryland motor vehicle accident cases, any party may serve written interrogatories to another party. The receiving party must answer interrogatories within 30 days after service or within 15 days after the date after the date when the party’s initial pleading or motion is required, whichever is later. Responses must be made under oath.
A recent case before a federal appeals court shows how failing to answer interrogatories completely and honestly can lead to much bigger problems down the road. In that case, a van had slipped off the edge of a roadway while carrying six family members—all were injured, and one family member died. The crash took place in a construction zone, where a guardrail had been removed and had not been replaced. The lines on the road also had not been repainted where it had been repaved, and there were pieces of asphalt on the shoulder.
The family sued the two construction companies that had repaved the road. The defense attorney for the companies told the plaintiffs that the two companies had a joint venture with a $1 million insurance policy. The defense attorney sent initial disclosures under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26. In the disclosures, concerning the defendants’ insurance coverage, they listed the joint venture’s $1 million policy as their only insurance coverage. The parties settled for $1 million and signed a release stating that they were not relying on any statements by any parties’ attorneys.