Legal background

Physicians are often subjected to psychological abuse during depositions, as Dr. K was here. They often ask afterwards why their lawyers don’t spring to their defense. One reason is that the abuse is not accidental; it’s a tactic. The plaintiff’s lawyer wants to put the physician under so much pressure that the doctor will want to settle the case. He also wants to see how the physician reacts under stress, and the defense lawyer needs to know that, too, in order to plan his own strategy.


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Protecting yourself

Consequently, physicians cannot depend totally on their defense counsel to shield them from stressful depositions. But you can take several steps to lower the stress of the experience, thus increasing the likelihood of error-free testimony that might complicate matters unnecessarily.


First, take every opportunity to give depositions where you are not involved in the proceedings, such as testifying about injuries in auto-accident cases or at disability hearings. Practice may not make perfect, but it does improve performance significantly.


Second, take the time to prepare for the deposition and not just “go in cold.” At a predeposition conference with your lawyer, you can review of the chart—especially your own notes—and practice answering questions that the defense lawyer expects will be asked.