Expert witnesses are necessary in almost every medical malpractice lawsuit. Lay person usually cannot ascertain and comprehend the complex facts of medical malpractice cases. The nature of the facts and issues often makes them too complex for lay persons to understand. This makes the determination of whether the doctor or medical professional should be held accountable for causing injury to a patient difficult.
There are two major issues that appear in all medical malpractice cases that medical expert witnesses try to explain to the trier of fact. The issue is whether the doctor or medical professional adhered to the standard of care for professionals in the same field. The second issue is whether the doctor’s or medical professional’s inability to adhere to the standard of care applicable to the field caused the injury the patient suffered.
When presented in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the standard of care is what a normal, average, competent doctor or medical professional would have done in the particular situation in question. The medical expert will define the standard of care and she or he will give testimony to help the trier of fact make their determinations.
Then the expert witness will offer their opinion as a professional in whether the defendant doctor or medical professional met the standard of care applicable to the case. They prepare their opinions through the use of publications, guidelines, journals, textbooks, and other similar materials.
Judges have dismissed cases or decided cases on summary judgment early if they find the medical professional expert testimony lacking. In cases of a technical nature medical expert witnesses are needed to sort through the complicated facts, issues, and material that the trier of fact needs to have some understanding of to make determinations in medical malpractice suits. While the trier of fact does not have to believe the opinions given by any particular expert witness, they often use the opinions of experts to sort through the facts.
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