Policyholder Services

I am scheduled to give a deposition as a “fact witness” in a medical malpractice case involving a patient I treated. Will OMIC assign an attorney to represent me?

OMIC insureds who have received a deposition request regarding a patient they have seen, treated or consulted about should regard these matters very seriously and contact our Claims Department as soon as possible.

Physicians should understand that giving a deposition as a “fact witness” regarding care of the plaintiff exposes them to an unpredictable and adversarial legal process. Depositions, testimony given under oath before attorneys, are a useful tool in the discovery process. They allow the various parties to obtain as many facts as possible prior to trial. The attorneys’ goal is to try to extract information from the deposition witness (deponent) that will help their side prevail in the litigation. The deposition can be very uncomfortable for the physician who may be “grilled” about the care that was provided. In some situations, the information obtained through deposition may demonstrate that the party being sued was not negligent. In other situations, new facts may come to light that suggest other parties may have contributed to the plaintiff’s injury. When this happens, the plaintiff may amend his or her complaint to include additional defendants.

In general, OMIC advises insureds to be on guard to not unwittingly become enmeshed in the litigation. We also caution against providing opinions regarding another physician’s care. When an insured is scheduled to give a deposition as a fact witness, the claims representative will discuss the situation with the physician and determine whether legal representation is warranted. In many cases, an attorney is provided not so much out of concern for the insured being added as a defendant but to simply ensure fair treatment of the insured during the deposition. Also, the report to the Claims Department will serve as “official notice” to OMIC and may protect the insured’s coverage should it turn into a claim in the future.

Additionally, OMIC has created a Deposition Handbook (PDF) to provide an overview of and general information about the deposition process. The Deposition Handbook is not designed to take the place of the insured’s own personal legal counsel; its purpose is to assist insureds in understanding what takes place at a deposition.

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