Guide To Ohio Medical Malpractice, Part Three: Discovery
Discovery in an Ohio Medical Malpractice Case
During the discovery phase of the case, the parties will serve different written questions upon each other known as “interrogatories,” and they will also serve what are known as “requests for production of documents.” Interrogatories are actually very simple. They are questions that are sent to the other party which must be answered under oath and then be returned to the party that originally sent them.
Generally speaking, the plaintiff will ask questions of the defendant which are geared toward proving that the doctor in question provided care that was below the relevant standard. For example, the plaintiff may ask the doctor, “If a different diagnosis and related course of treatment was not considered, state the reason why.”
Likewise, the interrogatories that are directed to the plaintiff by the defendant doctor will attempt to get information from the plaintiff which seems to indicate that the claimed injuries arenot the fault of the doctor, or did not happen, or are not as serious as the plaintiff is making them out to be. For example, in an effort to blame another doctor, the defendant doctor may ask, “Please state the names of all other doctors who treated you for the same condition in the relevant time period.”
The requests for production of documents are essentially requests that the other party provide any and all discoverable documents that relate in any way to the medical malpractice lawsuit. With both interrogatories and requests for production of documents, either side is permitted to make objections. Our lawyers will make these objections for you and you will have no need to worry about that.
After the parties have exchanged the interrogatories and the requested documents, usually the next phase is for depositions to take place. In concept, a deposition is actually a relatively straightforward process. For the plaintiff’s deposition, he or she will come into our office and be asked questions orally by the defense lawyer, which our client must answer under oath. There will be a court reporter there taking down everything that is said. In sum, a deposition is a simple question and answer session. The defense lawyer will likely ask you some questions about your personal background, your medical treatment, your understanding of the incident in question, and what you believe your prognosis to be and why.
Likewise, one of our lawyers will take the deposition of the defendant doctor. This is known as an “expert deposition.” Sometimes these expert depositions are recorded on videotape so that they can be played at trial in the event of the doctor’s unavailability. Many of our questions for the doctor will be prepared ahead of time with the aid of our own expert who we will have retained on your behalf to help prove your case. Our goal during this expert deposition is simply to obtain information that we can later use to argue that there were errors, omissions, and/or mistakes that may have led to the plaintiff’s injuries. Our lawyers will also obtain information about the doctor’s history and obtain detailed information about why he or she chose the course of action that was undertaken in your case. Likewise, the defense will take the expert deposition of the expert witness that we retain on your behalf to try and discover his or her position on the matter.
It is very seldom that a doctor will “break down” during their deposition and flat out admit that they did something wrong. However, the goal is to get the doctor to back off the position that he or she can do no wrong and perhaps acknowledge that things could have been done differently and that there were other options. The actual proving of your case will not come from the deposition of the defendant doctor, it will be proven by you, by your expert, and by your Ohio medical malpractice lawyers at trial.