Depositions by Written Questions
These written questions resemble interrogatories, but they may be addressed to any person or entity, not just persons who are party to the litigation. Before a deposition on written questions is sent to the deponent, it must be sent to the other parties in the lawsuit. Any other party may object to a question or request that additional (cross) questions be asked, serving the purpose of cross- examination. (Interrogatories do not require cross-questions because there will be other opportunities to cross-examine the party.) In a deposition by written questions, a third party, such as a notary public or process server, presents the questions to the deponent. The questions are answered in the presence of the third party, who also attests that the answers are properly sworn.
The most common use of depositions by written questions is to establish the authenticity of medical and other business records. Some states also allow depositions by written questions as proof that the charges to the patient were reasonable and customary. They must be answered by either the person who made the entry or by the custodian of the records. The custodian does not need to have personal knowledge of the entries in question to testify about the recordkeeping protocol. However, the custodian must be able to answer certain legal questions for the medical records to be admissible in the court.
In the following example, the required set of questions is directed to a witness who is the custodian of records for Dr. Mary Jones:
Sample Affidavit
1. State your full name, residence, and occupation.
2. Has John Doe been treated or examined by Dr. Mary Jones?
1. Has Dr. Jones made or caused to be made any notes, records, and/or reports of the examination and/or treatment of said patient?
2. Were the entries on these notes, records, and/or reports made at the time, or shortly after the time, of the transaction recorded by these entries?
3. Were these notes, records, and/or reports made or caused to be made by Dr. Jones in the regular course of business as a doctor or physician?
4. In the regular course of business at Dr. Jones’s facility, did each of the persons who signed the reports contained in the record either have personal knowledge of the entries shown on the report or obtain information to make the entry from sources who had such personal knowledge?
5. Do you have such records as described above on John Doe?
6. Were these records kept as described above?
7. Please hand such records on John Doe to the notary public taking this deposition for photocopying and marking as exhibits to be attached to this deposition.
8. Have you done as requested in the preceding question? If not, why not?
1. Are you familiar with the charges usually and customarily made for the medical services reflected in the bills furnished as a part of the requested written records?
2. Please state the full amount of charges in the treatment of John Doe.
3. Please state whether such charges are reasonable and customary for like or similar services rendered in the vicinity in which they were incurred.
4. Were the services performed, as reflected in the records, necessary for the proper treatment of the patient in question?