Expert testimony plays a vital role in the success of any medical malpractice case. Since there is a great deal of technical information involved in deciding whether a healthcare provider's conduct qualifies as negligent, courts rely on expert testimony to interpret the facts of a case.
How To Win A Medical Malpractice Claim
Experiencing a bad outcome from your medical care does not necessarily mean that you've been a victim of malpractice. To receive compensation for your injuries, you must prove your healthcare provider caused your injuries as the result of violating the standard of care for treating your condition.
Using Expert Testimony To Establish Standard Of Care
The primary role of an expert witness in a medical malpractice case is to establish the standard of care. This is a term that refers to what a reasonable provider with similar skill and experience would have done to care for the patient.
Some issues an expert may be asked to establish include:
- Which symptoms should be looked at when diagnosing a particular medical condition
- What diagnostic tests should be ordered when a patient seeks treatment with a specific set of symptoms
- How to correctly interpret test results
- If a lack of a diagnosis is reasonable based on the patient's symptoms
- If the patient's symptoms could have been reasonably misdiagnosed as another medical condition
- Whether the time between receiving a diagnosis and beginning treatment was reasonable
- What were the risks and benefits associated with a specific medication or course of treatment, given the patient's history
- What method should be used to perform a surgical procedure
- How a patient would be monitored for complications
Proving Causation With Expert Witnesses
To show causation, you must establish that your injuries are the result of the provider's negligence. In cases where surgical tools are left inside a patient or surgery is performed on the wrong body part, establishing causation is straightforward. In cases involving a serious illness such as lung cancer or complications from labor and delivery, establishing causation is much more complicated. Expert witnesses can also be vital in proving cases where there is some debate as to causation.
Qualifications For Expert Witnesses
An expert witness doesn't have to be a doctor who has treated you directly. However, not all healthcare providers qualify as expert witnesses. To be a suitable expert witness, you need to consider the provider's:
- Academic experience
- Board certification
- Expertise in a specific field of medicine
- Familiarity with protocols for your medical condition
- Experience in malpractice law
- Past experience serving as a witness
Since advances in medicine are being made every day, note that it's possible to encounter experts who disagree about a particular issue. Each side is allowed to submit his expert testimony for the court to consider.
Consequences For False Or Misleading Testimony
Expert witnesses once received absolute immunity from civil litigation related to their testimony. However, this is no longer the case. An expert who provides false or misleading testimony can also be subject to action from the state licensing board or discipline by professional medical associations.
Finding An Expert Witness
When you retain an attorney for your medical malpractice case, he will locate appropriate experts on your behalf. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys have developed networks of experts they can call who are suited to testify on a specific aspect of your case. Your attorney will also handle the fee for the expert's time and expenses, which will be reimbursed from the settlement you receive as part of your contingency fee agreement.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
As a victim of medical malpractice, you're entitled to compensation for:
- Medical care related to your malpractice injury
- Cost of any future medical needs related to your injury
- Lost wages during your recovery
- Any applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents advocate for their right to malpractice compensation after being victimized by a healthcare provider's negligence. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation at one of our six convenient office locations.