How a Medical Malpractice Expert Witness Should Prepare for Deposition
Excerpted from SEAK’s Course: How to Excel as an Expert Witness in Medical Malpractice Cases
You know, as soon as you show weakness, they’re gonna go for the gusto. Like, when I saw there’s a little bit of hesitation, I’m gonna stay with that, because why? I want the person to melt down. Now, they’ve melted down, I’m gonna ask them the key question on the case when they’re not at their best. That’s what I’m trying to do, that’s part of what we do, that’s why it’s called interrogation. That’s what attorneys do, a deposition.
That’s why I told you to prepare like a professional athlete because you’re going into battle at deposition, okay? You’re going in with the sharks. You have to assume the lawyer is at the top of their game. Make that assumption and be pleasantly surprised as opposed to be burned because, my God, you just got yourself…you know, just got spanked. You don’t wanna be in that situation. You’d rather go in there with high expectations, okay, so don’t underestimate, be confident.
Prepare like a professional athlete. Know the record cold. Study all the prior statements that you’ve made. Understand the words that you’ve used. Play it out, how are you going to answer. Instead of thinking of it as, “Oh my God, this is gonna be a stress tank,” think of this as a marketing opportunity. Your ability to do well in this setting is going to impress everybody in the room. You’ve got retaining counsel. Opposing counsel is a potential client. The insurance adjuster is in the room, that’s a potential client. This is a marketing opportunity for you.
Testifying is not for the faint of heart, you have to have a thick skin. You wanna enjoy this work. If this is painful for you, maybe expert witnessing is not for you. All right? But, somebody who does well in the setting is going to really please retaining counsel, because the leverage they’re gonna have on the case is gonna go up, because they have showcased you as somebody who can stand up to questioning, be able to describe your opinion, articulate it, know what your opinion is, know where you got it from. That’s very valuable to them.
Remember, a lot of these cases settle, and so that’s their leverage. If you bomb, the value of the case goes down. If you do great, the value of the case goes up, right? So, all of this is going on, but you gotta embrace it and think of it as this marketing opportunity to do really well, to show, “This is what I can do.”