What’s the Max Number of Medical Experts in a Case?
Many cases such as personal injury, toxic tort, or medical malpractice lawsuits require expert testimony to proceed. Experts from both sides are necessary to establish or refute negligence, causation, damages, and other specific factors relating to the matter. Many cases become a battle of the experts and turn on the experts’ respective credibility and persuasiveness. But how many experts are too many? If your opponent has one medical expert on the issue of damages and you have four, is that permitted? Is that effective? Read on for an exploration of how many medical experts are appropriate for a given lawsuit, and call a qualified medical expert for assistance with a case.
Federal Cases: Cumulative Evidence
Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, there is no explicit limitation on the number of experts any given party can retain to offer testimony. A party could, theoretically, have ten different expert opinions all proving the same thing. However, there are practical reasons why having too many experts is not a good litigation tactic, and multiple opinions on the same topic may be excluded as “cumulative” under Rule 403.
It may take multiple different experts to prove breach, causation, and damages. For example, in a medical malpractice case, you might need one expert to prove that a given surgical procedure was an improper treatment for the case, another expert to discuss how the performance of that procedure caused plaintiff’s injuries, and a separate expert to discuss the likely future harm the plaintiff will suffer as a result of those specific injuries. A given expert may be able to offer opinions on several of these elements, but it would also be understandable to have different experts with different specialties focusing on these issues.
The limitation on the number of experts applies more to multiple experts testifying about the same topic. It may seem helpful to have multiple qualified experts all testifying that a given medical procedure was improper, to simply overwhelm the defense argument by showing the jury that your five experts outweigh the opinion of the defense’s single expert. While it is possible to have multiple expert opinions all pointing out that that one surgical procedure should not have been performed, for example, a court would likely rule that multiple experts offering opinions on the same topic would be “cumulative” of one another–they would be reinforcing the same exact point rather than offering additional information to help the jury understand the case. Moreover, the court may find that such opinions have more potential to mislead the jury than offer additional information. The number of experts on each side should not be a factor in a jury’s decision. Typically, a party should have a limited number of experts for each point that needs proving.
State Evidence Codes
State law may apply more specific restrictions on the number of experts a party may employ. For example, Michigan Statute § 600.2164(2) limits each side to three experts testifying about “the same issue in any given case,” unless the court explicitly grants permission for additional experts. Before you retain ten experts to support your case, make sure you know the evidence code and case law interpretations that apply.
If you need a qualified, persuasive, and experienced expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.