How to Choose a Medical Expert Witness
When there is a court case that involves an injury or a medical professional/institution, lawyers will often need the support of an experienced medical expert witness.
This specific type of witness must be capable of examining the case’s material facts, such as medical records. Medical expert witnesses are often required to prepare written statements and reports, create models and other visual aids to explain their theories, and of course, provide knowledgeable testimony to the Court.
Types of cases
A medical expert witness is always expected to give opinions with “reasonable medical certainty.” They should support the judge or jury in reaching a more accurate conclusion about the case’s facts than they would have without the expert’s testimony. The medical expert witness’ testimony can be used in a wide variety of cases, including:
- Medical Malpractice Claims
- Personal Injury Claims
- Workers Compensation Claims
- Criminal and Insanity Defense
- Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Claims
- Addiction Evaluation and Care
- Elder Abuse Claims
- Prisoner Abuse Claims
- Determining Cause of Death
An medical expert witness’s views may be based on personal experience working in the medical field, academic studies, or research from medical publications.
What makes a medical expert “qualified” to assist in a case depends on the type of case and the standards of that expert’s fields. Expert medical witnesses generally come from one of three backgrounds:
Medical witnesses that have gotten their expertise from hands-on work in a particular industry.
Their knowledge comes from the field of study and can incorporate the issue’s questions or facts in the case.
These individuals often start their careers as academics, practitioners, or both and then transition into providing expert testimony in their field. These leadership experts are usually well-versed in the courtroom.
When choosing an expert medical witness, you want to take the following into careful consideration.
Finding a qualified, experienced expert is one thing, but you want to be sure they are free of conflict as well. Before retaining a medical expert, you should look into their resume and references to verify they are in good standing within their field. An accurate background check will help avoid potentially case-damaging situations if the expert’s stated credentials do not match reality.
A thorough screening procedure for your expert medical witness candidates should include:
- Criminal Records
- Litigation History
- Professional Licenses
- Board Certifications and Sanctions
- Malpractice Claims
- Daubert / Frye Challenges
- Professional & Corporate Affiliations
- Publications and Lectures
- Subject Matter Expertise
- Conflict Checking
When reviewing a medical expertl witness candidate’s trial history, it is critical to note the number of case reviews, depositions, and testimonies they have provided in their career.
When choosing between an experienced expert medical witness or a new witness, remember one is not always better than the other. The medical witness’ level of courtroom experience can impact how the jury perceives them. Hiring someone with “too much” trial experience can lead the jury to believe that the expert is a hired gun. However, new experts can be easily intimidated during cross-examination.
Board Certified and Professional Licenses
It’s vital to ensure each considered expert has reputable education, qualifications, and experience in their field. Many medical specialist require specific licenses to practice in their medical field. Therefore, the ideal expert medical witness should possess a valid and current license when acting as an expert witness.
Character, Malpractice Claims, Etc
Professional reputation is everything inside the courtroom. Any mark against the medical expert’s reputation can be used to weaken their credibility. An ideal witness is free of any board actions, board sanctions, or malpractice claims.
Professional and Corporate Affiliations
Research has shown that jurors take note of an expert witness’ professional affiliations and pass judgment accordingly. Most jurors will remember the name of an institution with which an expert is affiliated. Check that your potential experts are part of leading industry groups and note any impressive affiliations your expert may have.
Juris Medicus takes the guesswork out of hiring a medical witness
At Juris Medicus, we take the uncertainty out of hiring a medical expert. All of our specialties and their subsequent professionals come to us by invite-only, meaning that they’re thoroughly vetted before the medical expert process. If you’re seeking a medical professional who can assist you in your case, our team is here to help, proudly serving the Texas community.
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