Why do so many lawyers ask boring questions at the deposition, especially when the lawyer has the opportunity to question a doctor in a medical malpractice case?
Typical Questions asked at a Deposition
During your medical malpractice case, your lawyer will have the opportunity to question the doctor who is being sued. The doctor whom you believe violated the basic standards of medical care and cause you harm. When lawyers question the doctor during the pretrial testimony, known as a deposition, they will start the session with the same boring information and questions. Some of these typically boring questions include:
- Doctor where do you go to medical school?
- Doctor where did you do your post graduate training?
- Doctor where did you do your internship?
- Doctor where did you do your residency?
- Doctor are you board certified?
This is known as obtaining the doctor’s credentials. Actually, trial lawyers need not ask all these questions at the beginning of the deposition process. Why not? Because every attorney who handles medical malpractice cases, will know exactly what the doctor’s credentials are, at the very beginning and even before the start of the deposition.
The Key Issue
In fact, the attorney should ask some questions first which are based on the key issue of the case. For instance, the medical malpractice case is about a doctor who performed surgery on the wrong arm of the patient. Based on these set of circumstances, that should be the very first question that should be asked. Which is: "Doctor, why did you operate on the wrong arm?"
The defense is likely to become agitated by this question and he might start objecting to the judge. He will say that such a question cannot be asked without laying the foundation. Now, the defense attorney is actually objecting, to many things, which are:
- The plaintiff’s lawyer has not set the stage
- The lawyer is not following the "script" of what should be asked
The plaintiff’s lawyer has disrupted the pattern of the defense lawyer, and he is going to the heart of the case, by asking, "Doctor why did you not operate on the correct arm?"
Questions pertaining to the key aspect of the case will be:
- Doctor did you operate on my client on this date?
- Doctor you knew beforehand that you planned on operating on the right arm, is this correct?
- When you went in for surgery that day, your plan was to operate on the right arm, is that correct?
- However, you operated on the left arm, isn’t that true?
- Tell us doctor why you operated on the left arm, instead of the arm you had planned on operating on?
However, many attorneys do not immediately go into this line of questioning. Why is that? Well, it is mainly because that is how they were trained many years earlier, to ask the boring credentials questions, start with the basics, go through with the patient’s history, and go through with the patient’s medical records. This is all very important and it is necessary. But you will find that the very best attorneys in New York, who handle medical malpractice cases, sometimes step out of the box and do things a bit creatively. By this, they get to the heart of the issue right from inception. Well, that is the crux of the matter anyhow.