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Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Individuals injured by medical professional may decide to file a lawsuit against that provider. This enables them to try to recover the damages they’re dealing with because of a potential malpractice issue.

Trying to prove that a medical professional didn’t meet their professional standard of care, however, can be complicated. In many cases, having an expert witness is critical to the outcome of such a case.

What is an expert witness in a medical malpractice case?

An expert witness in a medical malpractice case is usually a medical professor, doctor, nurse or other medical professional who can review the case and determine if the medical professional in question acted as expected by their profession. This individual must be willing to clearly state what went wrong in a case and speak to the plaintiff’s injuries, even if that means laying the blame on the practitioner being sued.

What is the role of an expert witness in a medical malpractice case?

The expert witness should be able to review the evidence and circumstances of the case. They will be asked to:

  • Define the standard of care for the case
  • State the cause of the patient’s injuries
  • Connect the plaintiff’s injuries to the actions of the defendant’s negligence
  • Explain the methodology of determining fault

They must also be willing to testify and to be cross-examined as needed for the case.

How is an expert witness selected for a medical malpractice case?

Ideally, the expert witness will be board-certified in the specific area of healthcare pertaining to the case and will be currently licensed to practice. While expert witnesses tend to be one of the most expensive components of a medical malpractice lawsuit, they are also one of the most important factors to winning a case. For this reason, the plaintiff’s attorney will most likely spend a significant amount of time identifying the expert witness who will have the most persuasive argument in the case.

What are the benefits of using an expert witness in a medical malpractice case?

Calling an expert witness in a medical malpractice lawsuit can help a complainant by establishing causation and determining what type of negligence occurred. They can also help quantify the damages associated with the case which helps justify the need for larger amounts of compensation. The most effective expert witnesses can explain to the jury in layman’s terms the important matters of a case so that they have an easier time reaching a favorable verdict.

What are the challenges of using an expert witness in a medical malpractice case?

One of the primary challenges of using an expert witness is finding someone who doesn’t mind breaking the silence associated with the medical community. Some practitioners won’t speak out in these cases, even if they see that another medical professional is wrong. Hiring an expert is also costly and there is no guarantee that a specific witness won’t have biases that could negatively impact the case.

Using expert witnesses is often a key component in a medical malpractice lawsuit. They can speak to the negligent care given to the patient and explain complex, technical medical information to a jury in a way that they can understand. Seeking legal guidance to determine if this is a necessary step in any particular matter is generally wise.