No attorney expects you to be excited to be deposed, but they do expect you to be responsive and cooperative with the request. Here's how to initially handle the situation if you ever receive an attorney request for deposition dates.
The scenario probably goes something like this: your office assistant brings you a letter from an attorney requesting dates for your deposition and an immediate feeling of dread ensues. Many thoughts and questions begin running through your mind and, probably, include some of the following: Why me? Do I have to? Do I need to retain an attorney? Can I charge for my time? If so, how much can I charge?
The goal of part one of this series is to help you answer some of those questions.
First and foremost it is important to deal with the attorney request and not to ignore it. Instead, embrace the fact that the person requesting your deposition actually wants you to participate in the scheduling of your deposition. That does not always happen and sometimes the first notification you receive is simply a subpoena to appear and be deposed.
No attorney expects you to be excited to be deposed, but they do want you to be responsive to their request and cooperate with scheduling. Your participation in the scheduling process is a way to ensure that the date, time and location of your deposition interrupts your practice as little as possible.
Next, if you do not remember the patient in question, then you should pull their chart and refresh your memory. Review the chart and determine if there is anything about this particular patient or the care you provided that concerns you. Having that information in mind will help you determine the answer to your next question: do you need to retain an attorney?
If you think that you might want to retain an attorney I would recommend first contacting your medical malpractice insurance provider and informing them of the request for your deposition. Under certain circumstances your insurance provider may extend coverage to you to retain an attorney to represent you at your deposition.
If your insurance company indicates that there is no insurance coverage available to pay for an attorney to represent you at your deposition, then you need to determine if you are willing to pay for an attorney yourself. The decision to retain an attorney should be made on a case-by-case basis.
If you decide to represent yourself, contact the person requesting your deposition and inform them of several dates and times that you are available to be deposed. You should also provide them with information about days of the week or times of day that typically work best for you in the event that the specific dates you provided do not work for the involved parties. Indicate how long you will hold the dates you have offered.
Part two of this series will pick up on the subject of charging for your time.
Mandi J. Karvis is a medical malpractice defense lawyer with Phoenix-based Sanders & Parks, P.C. She represents physicians, chiropractors, nurses and other individual health care providers, as well as hospitals, nursing homes and other types of care facilities. She also represents health care providers before their respective licensing boards.