Answering Interrogatories from the Employer and Insurance Carrier in Your Workers Compensation Claim

 

After you file a claim for workers compensation benefits, you’ll likely receive a package from the attorney for your employer and its workers comp insurance carrier. The package will contain a letter asking you to answer the enclosed interrogatories. When you look at the enclosed document you see several pages of questions. Now what?

 

What are Interrogatories?

 

Interrogatories are written questions sent to you through your workers compensation attorney by the other lawyer. They are one of the most common discovery devices used in civil litigation and workers’ compensation cases. Attorneys use them to determine what issues are in dispute, what claims or defenses are being made, what evidence is available, and what evidence may be introduced at the trial. All answers to interrogatories must be given under oath.

 

Many interrogatories are written poorly in a way that tries to suggest an answer. Don’t let this trick you. Make sure you read the question closely. Try to determine what it is asking, then give a truthful but concise answer.

 

What Can the Employer and Insurer Ask Me through Interrogatories?

 

Rule 1.8(H) of the Rules of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission governs interrogatories. It states:

 

After a claim or application has been filed, interrogatories limited to contested issues may be served by one party on another party, more than 21 days before hearing without prior Commission approval.

Answers under oath to each interrogatory are to be filed within 21 days after service. Objections must be included with answers. If there is objection to an interrogatory and the party serving the interrogatory moves the Commission for relief, the hearing officer shall enter an order resolving the issue, after giving the parties an opportunity to state their positions in writing.

No party shall serve upon any other party, at one time or cumulatively, more than 15 interrogatories, including all parts and subparts, without leave of the Commission for good cause shown. Leave shall be timely requested in writing. Relevant interrogatories should be served promptly upon commencement of a contested claim.

Usually workers compensation interrogatories address the following areas:

 

  • Benefits Sought: The insurance carrier will ask you for a list of all injuries claimed and for the periods of disability claimed.

 

  • Health Care Received Since the Accident: The insurance carrier will often ask for a list of all health care providers you have seen since the accident, both for the work injury that is the subject of the claim and for any other reason. The insurance carrier will request the records from these health care providers to see what type of treatment and restrictions you have received and to see if there have been any intervening accidents.

 

  • Past Health Care Received: The insurance carrier will ask for a list of health care providers who have treated you for any reason in the five-year period before the work accident. These records may reveal any pre-existing conditions that can serve as the basis for a defense of the claim.

 

  • Prior Claims: The insurance carrier will ask if you have had any prior personal injury, workers compensation, or Social Security Disability claims. The insurance carrier will look for evidence that another accident or medical condition is responsible for your disability.

 

  • Prior Injuries: The insurance carrier will ask for a list of all prior injuries. Such an interrogatory is overly broad and you should object. The interrogatory must be limited both in time and in the body parts asked about.

 

  • Time Lost from Work: The insurance carrier is permitted to ask for a list of lost time due to any work accident, non work related accident, or illness in the previous five years. You do not have to provide information about time lost for work for unrelated reasons.

 

  • Arrests and Convictions: The insurance carrier is permitted to ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving lying, cheating, or stealing. A simple yes or no answer is all the information you need to give.

 

  • Prior Employment: The insurance carrier can ask you about previous employment for the five year period before the accident or occupational disease that is the subject of the claim.

 

  • Education: The insurance carrier may ask you about your educational or vocational training background if marketing is in dispute.

 

  • Social Media Accounts: Some insurance carriers have started to ask for login and password information for social media accounts like Facebook. These requests are objectionable. Consult with an attorney before turning over this information.

 

  • Witnesses: The insurance carrier may ask you for a list of all witnesses you will call at hearing and a summary of their expected testimony. You should provide this information. Make sure you include your health care providers.

 

  • Documentary Evidence: The insurance carrier may ask you for a detailed statement regarding every document you may rely on at hearing. Usually it is easier to provide the documents.

 

Things to Remember When Answering Virginia Workers Compensation Interrogatories

 

A few take away points about workers comp interrogatories:

 

  • You do not have to answer more than 15 interrogatories from the insurance company unless the Commission gives them permission. Don’t assume the insurance company has received permission.

 

  • You have a limited amount of time to answer interrogatories. If you don’t answer them within that time, the insurance company may file a motion to compel your answers. The Commission will then issue an order directing you to provide answers by a certain date. If you still fail to provide answers, the Commission may dismiss your claim or give some other type of sanction.

 

  • You waive any objections you don’t make in your answers. An experienced workers compensation attorney can help you protect your legal rights with the right objections.

 

  • You should know the law, or contact a workers comp attorney, before answering interrogatories. Answering incorrectly can hurt your case at hearing.

 

  • The insurance company can issue interrogatories even if there is no pending claim in dispute. If you are receiving workers compensation benefits then the insurance carrier is permitted to issue discovery at any time.

 

Have a question about your work injury claim or how to conduct discovery in a lawsuit? Contact Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’ll help you answer interrogatories in a way that increases your chance of receiving a top-dollar workers compensation settlement. And we’ll send interrogatories to the employer and insurer to help you build your case.

 

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