Personal Injury

Interrogatories in a Slip and Fall Case

Reviewed by David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law

During the discovery period of a slip and fall case, the plaintiff (the injured person) and the defendant (typically the property owner) exchange information regarding the facts of the accident and key aspects of the injury claim. One of the main discovery tools is the issuing of interrogatories from one party to another. Interrogatories are a written set of questions that the receiving party must answer truthfully and in writing.

In a slip and fall case, the main issue is usually whether the property owner -- or whoever was charged with maintaining the property -- failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the plaintiff’s slip and fall accident. To win the lawsuit, the plaintiff usually has to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to the slip and fall. In addition to establishing basic facts and identifying any relevant witnesses and evidence, interrogatories sent from a plaintiff to a defendant in a slip and fall case will center around identifying any action or inaction on the part of the property owner -- or agents of the property owner -- that could amount to negligence.

Interrogatories From the Plaintiff to the Defendant

Let's look at the kinds of interrogatory questions that might be sent by the plaintiff to the defendant in a slip and fall case:

  • Other than the incident that is the subject of this lawsuit, have any other slip and/or fall incidents occurred at the location of this accident, within the past 5 years? If so, please provide the date, parties’ names, nature of the incident, and lawsuit information (if any) regarding each such incident.

  • Please provide the full name, title, address, and phone number of each employee present in the building or general area at the time of this incident.

  • Do you have knowledge of any photographs, videos, sketches, or diagrams regarding this incident? If so, please list the type of item and its current location and/or custodian.

  • Prior to this incident, when was the last time the floor area where the incident occurred was washed or sanitized? Please provide the approximate date and time as well as the name of the individual(s) responsible for such cleaning.

  • Please identify any warning, caution, "wet floor", or other relevant signs that were displayed in the area where the incident occurred, including their verbiage, size, and exact location.

  • Please identify the following regarding the flooring surface where the incident occurred: type/material, date of installation, name of installing party.

Interrogatories from the Defendant to the Plaintiff

The defendant in a slip and fall case can also send interrogatories to the plaintiff. These interrogatory questions will typically focus on the plaintiff’s injuries and subsequent medical care, and any pre-existing medical conditions or treatments. Questions may also attempt to identify anything the plaintiff may have done that contributed to their injury (such as wearing inappropriate footwear, or not paying attention to where they were walking).

Interrogatory questions sent from the defendant to the plaintiff in a slip and fall case might include:

  • Please identify all medical facilities and/or physicians from whom you received medical care or treatment following this incident.

  • Please describe, in detail, how the incident occurred.

  • If you were wearing footwear at the time of the incident, please provide the brand and style of the footwear, when and where it was purchased, and the current location of the footwear.

  • Please identify any and all factors that you contend contributed to your injuries.

  • Did you consume alcohol, any controlled substance, or any prescription medication in the 24 hours prior to this incident? If so, please identify what was consumed, when, and the amount or dosage ingested.

  • In the past ten years, have you received any medical treatment or care related to the body part(s) injured in this incident? If so, please provide the dates, treating physician/facility, and type of treatment received.

Laws regarding interrogatories vary depending on whether the case is in federal or state court. However, all courts have limits on the number of interrogatories that can be sent, so it’s important that each included question is carefully drafted and evaluated for relevance and importance. An experienced personal injury attorney is in the best position to draft and respond to interrogatories in a slip and fall case.

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