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Can Your Attorney Stop You from Answering a Question at a Deposition

Generally Your Attorney cannot Raise an Objection

Pretrial testimony is known as deposition or examination before trial. When you bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, the defense will have an opportunity to question you under oath at a deposition, which is held in the lawyer's office. While you are being questioned by the defense attorney, there will be numerous times, where your lawyer could yell out an objection.

Your lawyer will then voice the objection. Now do you answer the question asked by the defense attorney, even though your lawyer has objected to it? In New York, the answer is yes. You do have to answer the question asked by the defense at a deposition, even when your attorney has objected to it.

Two Exceptions at a Deposition

However, there are two exceptions, where you do not have to answer the question asked by the defense lawyer, when your lawyer objects. The first exception is, when the defense attorney asks what you have talked with your attorney. The talk you have with your attorney is privileged conversation, which means it is confidential. Therefore, the defense attorney is not permitted to ask you anything about what you talked about with your attorney.

The second exception is when the defense lawyer asks you something outrageous or something improper, which has nothing to do with the claims you are making, with the injuries you have sustained, or the defenses that are being raised. For instance, in a car accident case, you have suffered significant injuries such as a fracture, you needed surgery, and you are claiming that you cannot do certain things. Now, suppose the defense attorney asks you at the deposition, "How often did you beat your wife, last week?"

Totally Impertinent

Such a question has nothing to do with the claims you are raising or with the defenses that are being raised. The fact is, such a question has nothing to do with anything about your case, and hence it is outrageous, and palpably improper. Your lawyer will be well within his rights to raise objection to such a question being asked at the deposition. He can raise the objection that is palpably improper, and can instruct you not to answer the question, and you will not be doing anything legally wrong by not answering the question.

Many people have doubts about a pretrial testimony, and whether it is something like a trial. Even though deposition is held under oath and it is a question and answer session, and you are legally obligated to answer all the questions asked by the defense. However, your attorney does have the right to raise an objection and stop you from answering questions that fall into the two categories mentioned above.

The defense cannot ask you questions about what you have discussed with your lawyer, and the defense cannot ask outrageous and improper questions that have nothing to do with your claim or the defenses that are being raised. Even though there is no judge to rule over the objection at a deposition, you have the legal right to refuse answering questions that fall into these two categories, if your lawyer raises an objection.

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