Depositions in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

If you have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, there may be one or more oral depositions conducted in connection with your case. It’s a good idea to have an understanding of depositions and how they may affect your malpractice claim.
What is an Oral Deposition?
An oral deposition is customary in most types of court cases.
  • Depositions are one of several pretrial tools available to learn what an individual knows about the case and to preserve their testimony for use in court.
  • The party being questioned at a deposition swears to tell the truth, and the attorneys involved then ask questions.
  • Cross examination may also take place.
  • Although the deposition will be held in an office outside of the courthouse, the questioning is conducted very much like it would be in a courtroom at a trial.
  • A New York court reporter will take down the questions and answers verbatim using a stenograph machine. Electronic recording using a tape recorder or video camera may occur as well.
What Will be Discussed During the Deposition?
There may be things said during the deposition other than questions and answers. All discussion is recorded unless the attorneys agree otherwise.
  • The lawyers may make objections or engage in conversations with each other.
  • The claimant in a malpractice suit, known as the plaintiff, will be asked to give basic background information such as home address, birthdate, and marital status.
  • The plaintiff will also be asked questions about the history of the underlying medical problem or condition, medical treatment sought, medicine taken and complications resulting from any treatment.
  • The defense attorney will delve into all details of the underlying claim and will probably ask what the plaintiff believes the doctor did wrong. The plaintiff will also be asked about injuries or conditions resulting from the malpractice and about any similar injuries or conditions from before or after the malpractice incident.
  • The doctor’s lawyer will also explore the damages claimed by the patient. This could include medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, permanent injuries, limitations and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • The defendant’s doctor in a malpractice case may also attend a deposition. The doctor will be asked about his or her education, licenses held, board certifications and years in practice. The doctor will be questioned in detail about the plaintiff’s medical history, about the treatment given to the plaintiff and about any other health care professionals involved in that treatment.
  • The available medical records will be thoroughly examined and discussed.
  • Plaintiff’s counsel will want to explore the risks and complications of the procedure or treatment rendered to the plaintiff and any appropriate alternatives.
What Happens After the Deposition?
After the deposition has concluded, the court reporter finalizes their notes. This final deposition can be used in court as a legal document. The written transcript, or parts of it, may be read to the jury during proceedings. This is one reason why depositions are an important part of any malpractice case. They can have a profound impact on its outcome. A qualified medical malpractice attorney will have extensive experience with depositions. That experience may help a malpractice plaintiff receive fair compensation for their medical malpractice damages. Contact a malpractice attorney if you have been seriously injured by a negligent healthcare provider.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Veritext for their insight into depositions and medical malpractice lawsuits.

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