Medical malpractice claims are among the most complex areas of personal injury litigation. When you’ve been injured by a medical professional and decide to pursue a claim against them to seek compensation for your losses and suffering, you’ll want to be supported by an experienced legal representative who can explain the process to you. This way, you’ll know what to expect every step of the way.
Once your claim has reached the discovery phase, you’ll likely be asked to undergo a deposition. In order to alleviate some of the stress associated with that process, let’s take a look at how best to prepare for a medical malpractice deposition.
What Is a Medical Malpractice Deposition?
Depositions, which are given under oath outside of court, are a form of recorded oral testimony. They usually take place during the pre-trial discovery process. With some cases, depositions from the alleged victim and witnesses may be required; however, there are situations where depositions are not necessary. Your lawyer will explain to you what your case needs and why.
The purpose of a deposition is to help both sides get a better idea of what happened, why it happened, and who played a role in the alleged victim’s injuries and losses. While some attorneys use video depositions, the majority still rely on written transcripts of the sworn statements. This way, they can easily refer to the text when preparing for trial.
During the deposition, the attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant are present. Depending on the nature of your claim, an expert witness may also be present. While the doctor or medical professional being charged with negligence has the right to attend a medical malpractice deposition, it’s rare that they are actually present.
Understanding the Deposition Process
Depositions do not take place in a courtroom. Instead, it’s likely the meeting will be held in a mutually accessible area, like an attorney’s office. A court reporter will swear you in and is responsible for transcribing the event.
Once you’re sworn in, the defendant’s attorney will ask you a series of questions. You are required to answer all questions truthfully. Once they’ve finished with their examination, your own lawyer will have the opportunity to cross-examine or ask you other questions. Once that happens, the opposing attorney will again be allowed to ask more questions, which is known as the re-direct. The deposition ends after your attorney follows up with more questions, which is called a re-cross.
During the deposition, your lawyer has the right to object to any questions that come from the opposing lawyer. If your lawyer feels you are being harassed, they have the right to ask for the deposition to be terminated early. This normally has to be approved by contacting a judge.
Preparing Yourself for Deposition Questions
A deposition normally begins with a number of personal questions, such as:
- What is your address?
- How old are you?
- What is your marital status?
- Where do you work and how long have you been employed in your current occupation?
Questions like that are asked so the defendant’s attorney can learn more about the plaintiff. They may also be used to make the plaintiff feel more comfortable.
When it comes to questions relating to the actual injury claim, some of the most commonly asked questions include:
- When did you first notice signs or symptoms of the medical problem you sought treatment for?
- Did you seek help immediately?
- What, if any, complications did you suffer as a result of a medical procedure or surgery?
- Have you obtained a second opinion regarding your condition?
- Why do you feel the doctor was responsible for your injuries and losses?
- How has the injury affected your quality of life and ability to work?
- What is the prognosis for your future?
Medical malpractice depositions are typically informal in nature, but it’s important to stick to the facts when you provide answers. If you do not remember something or are uncertain of the answer to a question, say so. If you realize you’ve made an incorrect statement, inform your lawyer so the proper steps can be taken to correct your testimony.
Know Your Legal Rights
Medical malpractice cases are rarely settled after a deposition. It’s possible the claim could proceed for months or even years before negotiations result in a settlement. If a settlement isn’t possible, the case will go to trial.
To give yourself the best chances of receiving compensation after a medical malpractice-related injury, get in touch with our lawyers from Shrager & Sachs. Once we’re representing you and your case, we’ll be by your side throughout the entire process and ensure you understand your legal rights, options, and obligations.
No matter how your case proceeds, we’ll fight for your right to full and fair compensation for your losses. This way, you’ll be able to move forward from the event that injured you with the confidence in the fact that your financial future is protected. Contact us today to learn more.