The Ultimate Doctor's Guide to Becoming an Expert Witness

Legal proceedings involving the medical profession are extremely complicated. They involve highly scientific and technical analysis. In virtually all of these cases, only a trained medical professional can provide valid analysis and evaluation of the facts and circumstances. If you’re ever called to serve as a medical expert witness, you might wonder about the qualifications and how to approach it. Here’s what you need to know.

Medical Expertise

As a medical practitioner, you have technical knowledge that’s essential for determining the outcome of many legal cases. Your knowledge is not common to the average person. That’s why your judgment is essential to help settle legal disputes. With your expertise, cases can be decided based on scientific evidence, rather than unsubstantiated opinions.

Good Communication Skills

While you need to have highly technical knowledge, it’s also important that you can translate technical terminology into language that non-medical professionals can also understand. The lawyers, judge, jury members, defendant, and plaintiff all need to understand what you mean. You may want to initially use technical language that your peers would understand, but then define it in layman terms for everyone else.


Testifying in legal proceeding is a very serious matter that can affect people’s lives. For that reason, you’ll want to take your duties very seriously. Just as you would as a medical practitioner, you’ll want to bring your highest level of professionalism to any case in which you testify.


Your testimony must be guided exclusively by your professional knowledge, not how you feel about parties involved in the case. For example, you may have opinions about insurance companies, or you may personally like or dislike either the plaintiff or defendant, but those feelings must not influence your role as a resource with medical expertise.

Times an Expert Witness May Be Requested

There are hundreds of cases in which a medical expert witness may be called, but one of the most common types is malpractice suits. Medical malpractice experts use their knowledge to evaluate the performance of peers in the medical profession. The medical malpractice expert will look at issues such as was negligence involved or were all reasonable medical practices used during diagnosis and treatment. As you can see, the role of medical experts is not an easy one, but it's vital.