Are expert witnesses worth the expense in medical malpractice cases?
When you’re trying to prove a medical malpractice case against a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, special expertise is often required to explain information to the jury. Medicine is a highly complex professional field that requires many years of training, and an expert witness is someone who has the specialized knowledge to help you make your case in a court of law.
Is an Expert Witness Required for Your Case?
Yes. Not only does Texas law require that you have at least one expert witness assist in your medical malpractice case, but he or she is vital to proving your case. Choosing the right expert witness can be challenging, and is something that you should do with the help of your attorney, since there are a few important legal requirements that must be met. He or she must:
- Be currently practicing, or have practiced medicine during the time at which the injury occurred.
- Have knowledge of the regular standards of care related to the injury or illness in the claim.
- Have the training or experience necessary to offer an opinion as an expert.
Since finding the right medical professional with the appropriate experience and training is so critical to your case, it’s usually best to follow the recommendations of your lawyer. He or she is likely to already have an idea of a professional who fulfills the legal standards.
How Expert Witnesses Help Your Case
In any medical malpractice lawsuit, there are typically four key points that you must prove to be successful in a court of law. This includes showing that there was a:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have owed you a duty of care, which usually means that you had a doctor-patient relationship at the time of the incident or injury.
- Breach of duty. You must be able to show that the defendant somehow breached that care of duty by failing to act in a way that any other similarly-trained medical professional would have acted in the same type of situation.
- Causation. You must also be able to show that the breach of duty was the cause of your injuries, whether by worsening your condition or causing additional harm, and not due to the initial condition or another outside cause or factor.
- Damages. You must be able to somehow quantify the harm that was done to you by the injury, in the form of damages. This can include a dollar amount for medical bills related to the injury, extra or repeated surgeries or procedures, lost time and wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Your expert witness will usually be a medical professional, such as a doctor, who is familiar with the field of medicine or specialty in which your injury occurred, and is often in the same line of work as the defendant. Your expert witness will be able to express the extent and nature of your situation to the jury in a way that only another medical professional will be able to do.
To demonstrate the facts and prove your points before a jury, your expert witness will come forward and share what his or her experience is and give an opinion as to whether a breach of duty occurred, and may offer supporting evidence, such as articles from medical journals, guidelines from medical boards or other professional medical organizations, or other evidence as fits the situation.
Legal Help for Medical Malpractice
If you believe that you’ve suffered harm due to medical malpractice, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’ve spent decades standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of medical professionals, and we’re here to help you today. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, call us by telephone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.