Friday, March 07, 2008

Misstatements by Expert Witnesses in Deposition

Yesterday, while researching the answer to a client's question about depositions, I came across the following from Depositions: The Comprehensive Guide for Expert Witnesses.
Correct Misstatements as Soon as Possible: Expert witnesses are not expected to be perfect. During a long and arduous deposition, an expert may misspeak or make a mistake or error. If this I happens, the expert should correct the error on the record as soon as she recognizes the error: "I want to correct a statement I made a few minutes ago. I stated that the 2005 EMG was related to the surgery. That is incorrect. " Counsel may challenge the expert on the mistake before she has an opportunity to correct it. In that case, the expert should admit the error graciously.

After making a mistake, the expert needs to avoid making the matter even worse by an inability or unwillingness to admit the mistake. This could make the expert look biased. If the expert discovers a mistake after the deposition concludes, she should notify counsel and correct the deposition transcript when it comes for her signature.

Example: How to Admit a Mistake

Q: You only treated her for a 2005 accident, correct?
A: You know, it's interesting. I'm looking at what we wrote down here and it says "2001-2004 motor vehicle accident, recovered." I may have misinterpreted what this note was. The accident was '01, but we saw her in '04; and I apologize if I misled you.

Practice Pointer: The expert has done a good job handling his mistake. He comes off as human and above all, honest.
Knowing how often I myself misspeak, you might want to keep this advice in mind.

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