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Expert qualifications questioned in med mal cases

The civil justice system only functions both effectively and justly when everyone approaches a given case honestly and with integrity. Unfortunately, not all plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses ultimately play fair. As a result, it is critical to have appropriate checks in place to ensure that the system functions as justly as possible.

One concern currently plaguing a host of medical malpractice cases specifically and medical malpractice law generally is qualifications of expert witnesses. When judges and juries ultimately decide a medical malpractice case on its merits, the fates of both victims and defendants are affected by evidence offered for consideration and the witness testimony of experts.

Professionals must have certain qualifications to be considered experts. It is their sufficient experience and expertise in their relevant fields that lends their testimony both credibility and weight. Without adequate and proper expertise, these witnesses could influence the outcome of any medical malpractice case disproportionately and unjustly.

Recently, various jurisdictions have begun to intensely question just what kinds of qualifications render an individual an expert in any given case. Some insist that experts must be physicians who specialize in the same field as a given defendant. Others argue that this standard is either too broad or too narrow.

In the end, questioning an expert's qualifications in the right way may dramatically influence the outcome of a case. As a result, it is critical for anyone involved in a medical malpractice suit to retain experienced legal counsel who knows what questions to ask and when to insist that a witness is not an expert for the purposes of the case.

Source: amednews.com, "Qualifications of medical expert witnesses come under fire," Alicia Gallegos, May 13, 2013

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