It’s almost unbelievable to think that you could lose everything because of one simple mistake. Your medical license, your job at George Washington hospital, the income that you and your family depend on—all of your livelihood depends on your ability to defend yourself in your medical malpractice case.
While you may not have made a mistake in the operating room, you can still make one in your deposition that can cost you for the rest of your life. With so much at stake, how can you know what to do and say during questioning that will save your job and your reputation?
Three Things to Remember When Giving a Deposition as a Co-Defendant in a Malpractice Case
Many medical malpractice cases involve multiple defendants, such as the surgeon, nurses, and hospital where the medical error occurred. In these situations, it can be difficult to know what to say to protect your own liability. Should you look out only for yourself? Should you deny any other involvement? And how can you explain your actions in court in a way that convinces the jury you are not to blame?
Before you give your deposition, remember these three things about testifying in a case with co-defendants:
- Don’t abandon your co-defendant. If your attorney has recommended that you keep a united front with the other defendants, do so. Too many defendants turn on their co-workers when they are questioned, thinking it will prevent them from shouldering any blame. In fact, the opposite is almost always true: if you imply that a coworker was liable, he may do the same to you, strengthening the opposition’s case.
- Keep your opinions to yourself. In many cases, nurses and doctors who are named as co-defendants may not get along, or even like each other. Personal opinions have no place in a courtroom; remember, the way you feel about a person has little bearing on how she does her job. You will have to cooperate with your co-defendants in order to win the case, so avoid sharing any information about your coworkers that could be potentially harmful unless specifically asked.
- Do not blame your employer. If one of your co-defendants is a corporate entity (such as the hospital), your attorney may recommend that you not say anything that implies guilt on its behalf. Some attorneys attempt to separate a worker’s liability from his employer’s in a co-defendant case in order to get the corporation dismissed. There are pros and cons to this strategy: if the hospital is dismissed from the case, you may also be dismissed; on the other hand, you may shoulder the burden alone if you are found liable.
The best thing you can do to prepare for your case is to go over your testimony with your attorney so that you provide accurate and truthful responses to each question.