Medical malpractice claims rely heavily on expert testimony. These are medical experts, instead of normal witnesses, and they are validating the plaintiff’s claims or disproving them for the defense. Each side will use their own team of physicians, with similar background and experience to the defendant, to prove their case.
Malpractice cases are highly complex. Therefore, you need a medical expert to explain the facts, break down who’s at fault, and prove that you were injured by a physician or healthcare provider’s negligence. A case without medical experts testifying is unlikely to succeed.
Do You Really Need a Medical Expert’s Testimony?
Sure, the evidence might be clear from your medical records that you suffered an injury – it might even show the physician or healthcare worker’s negligence. However, without a medical expert to put the medical terminology and evidence into understandable terms, a jury may not see it as crystal clear as you or your attorney. That is why you need an experienced physician to specifically explain how the healthcare worker’s actions led to your injury.
Without medical experts testifying on your behalf, a judge is likely to dismiss your case or decide early that you do not have a valid malpractice claim. A judge may feel the technical information is too complex for a jury to understand, and therefore, you cannot proceed.
Your attorney will start looking for medical experts early on, long before you go to trial. They may use them for input while drafting a demand letter, and they will need a medical expert to assist you before you even file.
You Will Need an Expert to File Your Lawsuit
In Kentucky, you must prove your malpractice case has merit before you can even file the lawsuit. A medical expert’s testimony and input is required when you file for a lawsuit, because you must show that your case has merit through evidence and another physician’s endorsement. A physician must review all of the evidence, and they will sign a letter of merit that you will submit with your malpractice lawsuit.
This certificate of merit tells the court you have a valid claim and avoids clogging the civil courts with medical malpractice cases that have no merit. Just because a doctor signs off on the malpractice case, saying you have merit, doesn’t mean you will win your case. Instead, that comes down to the testimony of experts, your evidence presented, and your level of representation in court once your trial begins.
Your Medical Expert Testifies on Specific Areas That the Judge and Jury Need to Hear
The most important role of the medical expert is to testify about two central questions in your case:
- Did your physician or healthcare provider follow the standard of care expected by others in a similar field?
- Did your physician or healthcare worker’s failure to provide the standard of care directly cause your injury?
The standard of care for a physician is much higher than the average person’s expected standard of care. You need a medical expert with a similar background to testify what a competent physician would have done in the same situation your physician was in. They will provide their “expert opinion” based on the evidence.
Every field of medicine has its own standard of care. That is why you need a witness with a similar background to the defendant. For example, if you are suing a neurosurgeon for malpractice, you need a neurosurgeon with a similar education and years of experience to testify. Having a pediatrician testify against a neurosurgeon would not be a qualified medical expert.
Lastly, you need the expert to testify as to how the breach of care led to your injuries. This part is critical, because if you cannot tie the physician or healthcare worker’s actions to your injury or further illness, you have no legal basis to seek compensation.
Not all bad medical outcomes are malpractice. That is why you need an expert to testify as to what the breach of care was and how it impacted your medical outcome. They must explain to the jury that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) were the direct cause.
Are There Situations Where an Expert Is Not Necessary?
There are instances where you may not need a medical expert. However, you should allow a qualified malpractice attorney to decide whether you need an expert or not.
In most cases, you will need an expert to explain the situation to the jury. However, there are instances where the situation speaks for itself, and there is no need to have an expert explain it to the jury.
Some instances where an expert is not necessary include:
- It is clear that the medical professional had complete control over the situation and the instance that led to the injury; therefore, there is no other explanation or reason that the patient suffered the injury. For example, a surgeon leaves a surgical sponge in the patient’s body after operating. No one else could have placed the sponge there, so it would be obvious that the surgeon failed to check for the sponge before closing.
- The injury or illness could have only occurred because a healthcare worker failed to offer the acceptable standard of care.
Speak with an Experienced Attorney Regarding Your Medical Injury
If you or a loved one was injured by a physician or healthcare worker’s inability to provide the acceptable standard of care, you need to speak with an attorney. A skilled lawyer will first review your case to see if they think it has merit. Then, they can help locate an acceptable medical professional to not only validate your claim as part of the filing process, but then testify in court on your case’s behalf.
Let Attorney Seth Gladstein from the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, help you win your malpractice case. No one should suffer a serious injury or medical condition because of a physician’s failure to follow the standard of care, and you have the right to seek compensation. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation or ask a question online about our history with malpractice cases.