About the Role
An medical expert witness aka medical malpractice expert is a nurse, medical doctor, or other highly qualified and trained medical professional, who is employed to assist with a legal dispute, including malpractice suits. These licensed practitioners receive additional legal training in order to act as knowledgeable resources and court witnesses, when necessary, for certain legal matters. Their vital role is to offer medical legal consulting services that combine scientific education, knowledge of medications and other medical treatments, experience in clinical settings, and more.
A medical malpractice suit must establish merit to determine litigation is necessary. In order to do so, the plaintiff must establish liability, or a breach of ordinary standard of care by a medical professional, group of professionals, or institution. The attorney representing the plaintiff must also establish causation and damages. This is where a medical expert witness plays a role. They can apply their knowledge to the records pertaining to a case and determine if standard of care was breached. They can also pinpoint the causation; for instance, the administration of a drug with deadly counteractions, and the extent of the injury it caused.
In order for an attorney to successfully represent the plaintiff or defendant, they must refer to a medical expert witness for a professional and authoritative perspective on the situation at hand, consulting detailed medical records and offering interpretation.
Representing the Plaintiff
Medical expert witnesses can verify that a medical professional, in their knowledgeable perspective, has breached standard of care. They can then appear as a witness in court to explain how the breach occurred, explain the actions that led to injury, and explain, in layman’s terms, how the breach of standard of care has been to the plaintiff’s harm.
Representing the Defendant
Medical experts can also invalidate false claims of malpractice, including cases in which patient non-compliance with medical recommendations has affected the plaintiff’s health. They can also invalidate false assertions of injury on behalf of the plaintiff. Counsel representing the defendant should refer to a medical expert witness to prove that no litigation is necessary, or that causation does not fall on the defendant.