Why You Need a Medical Expert in Your Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice claims are complex cases where each party must argue that their client’s argument is better supported by the scientific evidence available. As an attorney, you may be extremely experienced as a medical malpractice litigator, able to simplify technical medical topics for a judge or jury. You may even have academic or professional experience in the field of medicine that allows you to locate and interpret scientific research that supports your case. But without the help of an expert witness, winning or defeating a medical malpractice lawsuit is almost impossible. Learn more about why you need an expert in a medical malpractice claim below, and contact an experienced physician medical expert for more information.
Medical Expert Testimony is Required in Most Medical Malpractice Cases
Having a medical expert might not only be advantageous; it could be critical to filing a case. In some states, medical malpractice plaintiffs need an affidavit affirming the legitimacy of a claim from a medical expert before they can file a lawsuit. For example, Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs must support their claim with an affidavit from an expert who is qualified in the specialty of the medical practitioner in question.
Even in states that lack the requirement of an affidavit to file a claim, medical expert witnesses are often critical to proving or disproving malpractice claims at trial. Medical malpractice claims hinge on whether a doctor or nurse with a duty to the alleged victim acted within the generally-accepted standard of care. The “standard of care” within a given field must be convincingly established for the jury. Each party must present as much reputable support for their definition of that term as possible to create the impression that not only is their definition correct, but also that this standard was or was not followed in this case. Establishing this standard requires the use of an expert who can speak articulately on the latest research in their field of knowledge and confidently rebut evidence or opinions that run contrary to the standard they assert.
Many states, including Virginia, require that a medical expert be currently licensed to practice medicine, and/or that they have recent experience in the relevant field. Often, these laws state that the relevant experience or research must have occurred within one to three years of the date of the alleged malpractice. Even in states such as Nebraska where a specialist is not required, parties often benefit by finding an expert witness who can testify most convincingly to what physicians in the defendant’s position knew or should have known to be the appropriate standard for their behavior.