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Who Serves as an Expert Witness in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical malpractice is when a doctor or medical professional’s incorrect or negligent behavior leads to a patient’s injury or death. These cases are often complicated, since most laypeople don’t have an in-depth understanding of factors involved (medical terminology, what should or shouldn’t be done in some cases and so on).

That’s where expert witnesses come in. If you or a family member have been injured and the fault lies with a medical professional, finding a knowledgeable and dependable individual who can explain the circumstances in simple terms is critical; doing so will help you build the strongest possible case for compensation.

Requirements for Expert Witnesses

Each state is a little different with regard to its requirements for expert witnesses, but there are some basic rules that they have to follow:

  1. The expert needs to have experience in the field about which they are testifying. In other words, they should be licensed to practice the kind of medicine they are being asked about.

  2. The expert should have recent experience practicing in that field. A retired doctor who hasn’t worked in over 20 years is less appealing as an expert witness than someone who is currently doing the work; even if the retired doctor has a wealth of knowledge about the subject, a defense attorney in a litigation case could argue that the doctor isn’t up to date on the latest techniques and thus isn’t qualified to give an opinion.

  3. The expert’s testimony should be backed by facts. This might seem obvious, but it’s an important point. Just because someone is an expert and has practiced the type of medicine that’s relevant to the case, doesn’t mean that everything they say should be accepted as fact. The testimony they provide needs to be supported by facts that are generally accepted by the medical community (in other words, no “quack” theories).

Does Your Medical Malpractice Case Need an Expert Witness?

Usually, yes. The only way you might be able to forego asking a witness to provide expert testimony is if you believe your case is so ironclad that a witness isn’t necessary. Bear in mind, though, that the attorneys representing the defendant will do everything in their power to plant the seeds of doubt in the judge and jury’s minds. And Maryland is a contributory negligence state, so if you’re judged to have even 1% liability in a case, you aren’t eligible to receive compensation.

Bottom line: it’s better to err on the side of caution and enlist the help of an expert who can strengthen your case. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you find the right witness.

If you’ve been injured by a medical professional and you believe you’re entitled to compensation, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.