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Archive November 2019 XX, No. 11

Medical Malpractice: Don't Dread Depositions

You can take control of the questioning by being prepared and composed.

William Duffy

William Duffy, RN, MJ, CNOR, FAAN


THE WHOLE TRUTH Being honest with your responses to the plaintiff lawyer's questions will build your credibility before the trial. procedure.

You’ve just been informed that your testimony is needed for a malpractice lawsuit involving a case you worked. Now what? First things first. During the pre-trial deposition, the plaintiff’s attorney will try to extract information he can use during the trial. You’ll be sworn in, and everything you say will be on the record and can be used against you. The focus in the room will be entirely on you. It can be an intimidating, anxiety-ridden experience. Here’s how to best represent yourself against the allegations of a lawsuit if you ever find yourself on the hot seat.

1Rely on your attorney
Consult with your attorney beforehand and have a solid game plan in place. Your attorney has likely been through many depositions and should be able to help prepare both your mind and your emotions about what awaits you in that room. She can’t tell you what to say, beyond being truthful, but she can know the tendencies of the plaintiff’s attorney and let you know how he handles depositions so you don’t fall into his traps.

2Be strong and confident
Understand what the plaintiff’s attorney is trying to do. If he’s yelling at you, he’s not really angry at you. He doesn’t care about you. He’s trying to see if it affects you, if your voice gets weak, if you avert your eyes. He is looking for anything that might make you seem less trustworthy in front of the jury. If you can stay in control and ignore his efforts to influence you, he’ll be less likely to attempt mental tricks at trial.

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