If you have become involved in litigation, either as the plaintiff or the defendant, you may have been served with interrogatories and document requests. If so, your case has progressed passed the initial pleadings stage where the parties set out what their claims against each other are and has moved into the stage of litigation known as “discovery.” Discovery is a process that allows the opposing parties to collect information on the other party that will assist them in determining whether their claims are valid and give them evidence to assert their claims at trial if the case comes to that. You may be thinking, why would I willingly turn over information to the opposing party that may help them? This is a valid question, but discovery is a process that the parties are required by law to willingly participate in, if there was no discovery, parties would likely not have enough information to successfully pursue or defend their claims.
Interrogatories are an essential part of discovery. Interrogatories, governed by Rule 33 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, are a set of questions that a party drafts and sends to the opposing party for answers under oath. If you have been served with a set of interrogatories, you may be wondering whether you must answer them and if so to what extent. A party served with interrogatories does have to answer them fully to the best of their knowledge and must do so under oath. However, there can be grounds under which a party can object to an interrogatory that an attorney would be able to identify. For this reason, it is best to answer interrogatories while under the advice of counsel so that they can review your answers to see if there are any that you can object to and to make sure that you are fulfilling the requirements of the law without unnecessarily harming your case.
If you are a party to a lawsuit and have been served with interrogatories to answer and you do not have a lawyer assisting and representing you, it is encouraged that you retain a lawyer to help guide you through this often difficult and confusing process. A lawyer will be able to help you provide answers that comply fully with the law while doing the least harm to your position.