Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu

Who Can Be an Expert Witness?

Mature doctor working in contemporary office

If you have a medical malpractice case, an expert opinion is invaluable. You need a strong, persuasive, and admissible expert opinion to either prove your claims or disprove the claims of the plaintiff. In many instances, the battle of the experts will be determinative of the outcome of the matter, often on summary judgment. Continue reading for a discussion of who may be an expert witness, and reach out to an experienced and qualified medical expert with any additional questions.

Types of Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses can generally be employed for two different purposes: consultation and testimony. You may consult with an expert in a particular area of medicine, for example, to determine whether you can build a case in the first place. You may rely on their advice to build your case, determine causation, learn about types of damages you may be able to claim that would require an expert to identify, and figure out which other specific experts you will need to build your case and prove your claims.

The utility and qualifications for a consulting expert are up to you. There are no evidentiary requirements, as you are merely hiring someone you trust to give you sound advice about your case. You may not need to retain a practicing physician, for example, if you find an expert in a specific area (for example, gunshot wounds) that you might use to advise on your case.

Testimonial experts, on the other hand, are subject to evidentiary requirements. If you plan to rely on their expert opinion, in the form of an expert report or testimony, then you must establish that the expert is appropriately qualified under the relevant evidentiary code.

Expert Qualifications

To introduce an expert’s report, opinion, or testimony in a case, you must establish their qualifications to provide an expert opinion in accordance with the applicable rules of evidence. Federal Rule of Evidence 702, for example, pertains to expert opinions in a federal case. A witness may testify if their “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” The witness must have knowledge, experience, and qualifications sufficient to establish that their opinion on a specific issue has a proper basis. The more specific a witness’s expertise on a particular issue, the more likely their opinion is to be admissible and persuasive. Federal law sets a high bar for expert scientific testimony, so you need to make sure your proposed expert is truly qualified for the job.

Medical experts can include doctors, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, or any other medically trained professional. Anyone with a professional and educational background that would qualify them to opine on things like pain and suffering, medical causation, expected future medical procedures, whether a plaintiff will fully recover, or other issues, can be an expert. You do not need to retain a medical doctor or medical scientist with a doctorate, so long as the expert you hire has professional experience and educational history directly applicable to the specific issue for which you are seeking their opinion.

If you need a dedicated, detail-oriented, and professional expert witness in a medical malpractice or personal injury case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn