Form Interrogatories are the most basic form of the written discovery process. These questions are form questions. All the opposing party has to do to force you to answer the questions is to check a box (a link to the form can be found here.) In almost every instance you must answer all Form Interrogatories asked, although, in very rare circumstances a judge will not compel answering specific questions if the judge finds them to be wholly irrelevant or in violation of the attorney work product privilege.
The reason why you generally have to answer these questions is because they are developed by the Judicial Counsel and are seen as a way to painlessly gather the most basic information about a case. This information includes but is not limited to: how the opposing party believes the incident occurred, the opposing party’s personal identifying information, any medications the opposing party was taking that may have contributed to the incident, any drugs that the opposing party was taking at the time of the incident, any damages the opposing party is claiming that stems from the incident, etc. Because the questions are formulated by judges and ask for very basic information, judges tend to give great leniency in allowing these questions to be asked, even in occasions where asking an identical question using a Special Interrogatory would be deemed improper.
Additionally, these questions are phrased to be able to be understood and utilized by a lay person. As a result, most people can answer these questions without much help. However, I have never had a client that totally understood each of the questions asked (because despite their best intentions, lawyers can’t help but make things confusing). As a result, like most facets of the law, while you can get far by yourself, it is advisable to have an attorney help you along the way.