Depositions Pt. 1: Preparing for And Testifying
April 19, 2018
The discovery depositions of an expert witness will play an important role in the litigation process because of the huge impact it has both in trial and of course and on the overall outcome of the case. Expert witness testimony is a crucial part of litigation strategy that can mean the difference between a successful case and one that results in disappointment. The most important role of an expert is to endorse and lend credibility to the concerns of the party that called the expert at trial. If you plan to serve as an expert witness retained for trial or testify as a treating physician or would like to simply better prepare yourself for a deposition or trial, you will find this and the remaining videos in the series very useful.
This is the first video blog in a series designed to inform the chiropractic physician about his or her role in the legal system and how to be better prepared for the sometimes-unfamiliar trial process. The series will provide an overview of the dos and don’ts around expert chiropractic testimony, tell you how to prepare for testimony and give you an idea as to what subjects you may testify on in court. The presenter in the videos is Jonathan Brand who has nearly thirty years of trial experience, including the use of chiropractors as expert witnesses. With his background as a highly qualified trial attorney, he can share the nuances of vetting and preparing witnesses
Depositions are opportunities to secure sworn testimony to be used at trial. Since there are specific rules that govern depositions of witnesses and further the deposition of experts, it is important to be familiar with these rules. Preparation is the key to a successful deposition, for both the witness and the attorneys. Expert witnesses who excel at deposition will earn repeat and word-of-mouth business and see gains in their practice.
The single most important piece of advice for the expert witness is to tell the truth, simply and directly. This cannot be overemphasized. As an expert witness, you have a legal, moral, and ethical obligation to tell the truth. You are testifying under oath. Nothing ruins a case faster than exaggerating, misrepresenting, or otherwise telling an untruth. Giving false testimony, is not only a crime but it will destroy your reputation as a reliable expert
Equally as important, is that you understand the question before answering is emphasized and repeated. The witness cannot be afraid to say that he doesn’t understand the question, you are not expected to know the answer to every question. If you are not sure of the answer, you should not guess nor assume the facts. If the matter is beyond your memory or personal knowledge, "I don't know," or "I do not remember" are perfectly appropriate responses to any question at a deposition. If a question pertains to an existing document, don't be afraid to ask to review that document. A witness can review referenced documents before giving an answer during a deposition. The document may help to refresh your memory.