Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is injured as a result of negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional. Under Florida law, a patient has a right to seek compensation for the damages caused by medical malpractice. However, to collect compensation, the patient must first establish proof that the health care provider was, in fact, responsible for their injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows what actions to take when it comes to gathering and presenting the evidence needed to establish this proof. In addition to submitting a patient’s medical records, the attorney will often call an expert witness to testify on their client’s behalf.
An expert witness is a person who is accepted by the court as an expert on a particular subject due to their experience, education, training, certification or skills. Expert witnesses deliver testimony (referred to as an “expert opinion”) or evidence (referred to as “expert evidence”) relevant to the case. Both sides may call on expert witnesses to provide testimony. The testimony and evidence presented by an expert witness are designed to help the judge and jury make a more informed decision while deliberating the facts in a case.
The Role of an Expert Witness
The testimony of an expert witness can have a significant impact on the outcome of a trial, especially in cases of medical malpractice.
Most judges and members of a jury don’t possess the in-depth medical knowledge or expertise to determine who is at fault in a medical malpractice case. The primary role of the expert witness in a medical malpractice case is to help a judge and jury understand the complex medical and scientific facts they will have to consider when deliberating a decision.
In a medical malpractice trial, they provide the answer to two questions that are critical to the outcome of the case:
- Did the healthcare professional provide the same standard of care that other professionals would have provided in a similar situation?
- Did the healthcare professional’s negligent actions cause the patient’s injuries?
An expert witness will also need to his opinion on what is known as causation. Simply put, causation addresses the question of whether there would have been a different outcome for the patient if the negligence hadn’t occurred.
For example, if a doctor fails to diagnoses deadly cancer in early stages , an expert witness would need to give his opinion that more likely than not, the patient would have survived with proper early treatment.
What makes a witness an “expert”?
The qualifications for being an expert witness vary from state to state. In Florida, the law states that to give expert testimony in a medical malpractice case, the witness must be a health care provider who holds an active and valid license and has conducted a complete review of the pertinent medical records in a case.
If the health care professional against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered is:
- A specialist: The expert witness must specialize in the same specialty as the health care professional against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered.
- A general practitioner: The expert witness must have devoted professional time during the 5 years immediately preceding the date of the occurrence that is the basis for the action to an active clinical practice or consultation as a general practitioner.
- A health care provider other than a specialist or a general practitioner: The expert witness must have devoted professional time during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of the occurrence that is the basis for the action to an active clinical practice of, or consulting with respect to, the same or similar health profession as the health care professional against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered.
A person may also qualify if they are an instructor at an accredited health professional school, accredited residency program or involved in a clinical research program that is affiliated with an accredited medical school or teaching hospital.
A judge makes the final decision as to who is qualified to appear as an expert witness.
Expert Witnesses Have Benefited Our Clients
If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, please do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. Securing the testimony of an expert witness may be the key to collecting the full compensation you are due for your pain, suffering, and expenses resulting from your injuries.
Generally, expert witnesses for medical malpractice cases must be retained from out of state. This can become extremely costly, even before a case can be filed. This is why, unless there is significant injury, it is often not economical for the patient or lawyer to pursue this matter even if there was negligence. An expert medical malpractice lawyer can help explain your options, review your case, and offer advice on how to proceed.
Call the offices of Lisa Levine at (954) 256-1820 or send an online message to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Ft. Lauderdale medical malpractice injury lawyer. Our clients have experienced great success through our effective use of expert witnesses and their testimony. We are eager to discuss the details of yourpersonal injury claim and offer sound professional advice on the best way to proceed in your situation.
We handle our personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means you will not be charged a single penny unless we obtain a financial recovery on your behalf.