In personal injury cases, deposition of the plaintiff is significant from the point of view of winning the case. Though it is generally considered tedious, a proper deposition helps prevent surprise and enables the defense attorney to prepare well for the trial. Depositions that are carefully planned, taken and skillfully used have a great impact on the outcomes of a case. There are certain important things that an attorney can do before deposing a plaintiff that will prove useful. He/she must:
- Study the case in hand thoroughly and have a clear idea of the facts: This is important because every case has its own fine distinctions that one may miss if the file is not read thoroughly. It will also help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
- Understand the law affecting the case and the legal objections in the deposition: Only if the attorney is well-versed regarding the applicable law can he/she ask the right questions and stay focused. They should also know what the possible objections are.
- Collect all relevant information regarding the plaintiff including employment records, medical records and collateral source records: This is very important because as defense counsel you must obtain all possible information regarding the plaintiff before the deposition. Among these the ER records are the most significant, because these are usually honest as the injured person is more likely to be thinking of his/her injury rather than a possible lawsuit. Attorneys can make use of expert medical review services to find out about prior injuries from the ER records and also about any medications the plaintiff may have been taking. Emergency room records are also significant in that they may at times show a version of the injury or accident that differs from later testimony. This discrepancy is something a skilful defense attorney can exploit well.
Attorneys can utilize deposition summaries that are objective, clear and short summaries of the main points of a deposition transcript to aid in trial preparation as well as during the entire litigation process. Rather than having in-house staff such as paralegals preparing these summaries, outsourcing to an experienced medical record review company would be a better option in terms of reduced workload, cost-effectiveness, expertise, efficiency and accuracy.