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Hospitals can build a malpractice defense during depositions

As with other forms of litigation, most of the work of building a defense against medical malpractice charges takes place well before the day trial is scheduled to begin. For instance, pretrial depositions can uncover key testimony by doctors, hospital staff and other witnesses to the alleged malpractice. In some cases, it can lead to the charges being dropped or quickly settled, when it becomes clear the plaintiff’s claims will be very difficult to prove to a judge or jury.

A deposition is a formal questioning of a witness by attorneys for all parties to the lawsuit. The questions and answers are on the record, and answers are given under oath, so anything you say in a deposition could wind up as evidence. So it is smart to prepare with your attorney beforehand, and to follow these tips:

  • Be prepared. Besides having your attorney explain the process to you, you will want to review relevant documents before your deposition, so the facts are fresh in your mind.
  • Be honest. As we said above, witnesses are placed under oath. It may be tempting to try to lie or avoid answering sensitive questions, but this conduct could be used against you in court to undermine your credibility. Usually, it’s best to answer questions honestly, without volunteering any more information than is necessary.
  • Have your lawyer with you. Whether you are a party to the lawsuit, or simply a witness, you have the right to have an attorney present.

When fighting a medical malpractice suit, a strong legal strategy could include scheduling depositions with all relevant parties, so that their testimony can get on the record.

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