4 Reasons Why You Need to Validate Your Medical Expert Witness

4 Reasons Why You Need to Validate Your Medical Expert Witness

The Consequences of an Improperly Vetted Medical Expert Witness Can Be Particularly Devastating

Cases involving medical malpractice and other health-related disputes often have very high stakes—in terms of both reputational risk and the monetary amount the lawsuit seeks. These high stakes warrant serious consequences for an improperly vetted medical expert, even for professionals with the best of intentions. The following four reasons further underscore why you need to validate your own medical expert witness.

1. The expert will be pitted against another expert witness.

Many states require a medical expert's opinion just to initiate a lawsuit, and nearly all medical malpractice cases require testimony from a medical expert. This means your medical expert witness will have to testify in opposition to another expert in the field, in addition to undergoing cross-examination. If you don't properly vet and scrutinize your expert's testimony, it is very unlikely he/she will stand up to scrutiny in court.

2. The expert may not be in compliance with state laws.

In an effort to deter increasingly common instances of fraud, several states have enacted tighter restrictions on expert witness testimony in medical negligence cases. For example, in 2009, high courts in Arizona and Maryland upheld state restrictions against expert witnesses as constitutional. On July 1, 2011, Florida signed a law stating that out-of-state physicians offering expert testimony must apply for a certificate to testify. Arizona law includes statutes that require witnesses to practice in the same specialty as the physician defendant, while Maryland law mandates that doctors spent a specified amount of time actively practicing medicine.

3. The expert could be fined, lose his/her license, or face other punishments for deceptive testimony.

In Mississippi, a medical expert witness from out of state who gives deceptive testimony can be prohibited from testifying in future cases by court injunction. The state medical board can also revoke the licenses of doctors who provide false testimony and fine physicians up to $10,000 for the cost of investigating a case. In 2002, Detroit neurosurgeon Donald Austin was suspended from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) when he was found to have given an "inappropriate" and "unprofessional" testimony against a fellow society member.

4. Juries are inclined to trust authoritative medical experts and are sensitive to fraud.

According to an article from trial consultant Jeremy Rose of the National Jury Project, jurors are generally less impressed by a stellar, lengthy resume than they are by "how much hands-on experience they have with the topic in question." Similarly, jurors tend to be more trusting of experts with less experience as an expert witness, rationalizing that "the more time professional experts have spent on the stand, the less time they have spent in the real world." Perhaps due to the rise of fraud in medical malpractice lawsuits, social science research finds that anti-plaintiff biases can actually surpass anti-defendant biases.

JuriLytics seeks to mitigate all of these risks by implementing an extensive peer review system that vets and verifies medical expert testimony before your case is on the line. In addition to bolstering your case in court, peer reviewed testimony establishes a good faith effort for accuracy that effectively prevents the likelihood of harsh penalties for testimony ultimately deemed invalid.

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