Medical malpractice is an unfortunate event that can happen to anyone. With medical errors being the third leading cause of death in the United States, there’s no guarantee that when you visit the doctor or admitted to the hospital that you won’t become a victim of medical negligence. If you or a loved one do suffer the consequences of a careless physician, you may be able to bring a legal claim against the physician for damages.
But how do you prove that the doctor who treated you was negligent and didn’t just make an honest mistake? This can be difficult to do, especially when a physician’s team of experienced attorneys are arguing against you. The importance of an expert witness in medical malpractice should not be underestimated — many cases are lost or settled for much less than they are worth when a judge or jury does not understand complex medical terminology and can’t visualize what happened to you.
What Does a Medical Expert Witness Do?
A medical expert witness is a physician who is often a specialist or exceptionally qualified in their field of practice. The expert witness evaluates the medical records of the victim and helps to provide an easy-to-understand translation of what happened. The expert witness also provides an unbiased opinion of whether or not the physician did or did not exhibit negligence during the care of their patient and if the negligence did or did not cause the patient to suffer damages as a result.
When Should You Hire a Medical Expert Witness?
A medical expert witness should be retained as soon as you know you are going to bring a claim forward against the physician or hospital that harmed you. An expert witness doesn’t necessarily become involved in settlement negotiations, however, working with an expert witness from the start will show the other side that you are serious about your case. If you haven’t hired an expert witness before going to trial, you won’t be able to select one after the trial starts.
Do All Malpractice Cases Require Expert Witness Testimony?
In some instances, negligence is so obvious that it can hardly be argued. These cases usually settle quickly without going to trial. However, most medical malpractice cases are not cut and dry. The evidence may be difficult to interpret or it may be challenging to prove that the physician did not provide adequate care according to medical standards versus making a genuinely honest mistake. It’s important to have a medical expert witness in cases like these to help the judge and jury better understand complex medical processes and terminology, but you may not always know if your case will be simple or not. Hiring a medical expert witness is always a safe bet — it is better to have one and not need one than to need one and not have one.
How Do You Find a Qualified Expert Witness?
Usually, a medical malpractice case deals with a specific field of medicine, so it’s important to find an expert witness who is a specialist or highly experienced in that particular field. For example, in a malpractice case where a car accident victim was not treated properly in the emergency room, it would be appropriate to consider working with an expert witness who is experienced in the field of trauma medicine. Or, in a case where a heart surgeon makes a mistake during surgery that results in the patient’s death, it would be important to work with an expert witness who specialized in cardiothoracic surgery. You would not want to hire a neurosurgeon for a medical malpractice case that dealt with orthopedic surgery or a pediatrician in a case of an elderly patient who was mistreated in a nursing home.
Dr. Edward Mallory is a seasoned medical expert witness with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Mallory began his career in the medical field as a Patient Care Technician at the age of 16 and also worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for several years while he attended the Auburn University in Alabama and the University of South Florida in Tampa Florida to obtain two bachelor’s degrees. He is now an attending physician in the field of emergency medicine at Rockledge Regional Medical Center in Rockledge, Florida.
For more information or to book a consultation, call Dr. Edward Mallory today at 813-997-1241.