The 3 most important factors to consider when hiring a medical expert witness
If you are heading into a malpractice trial, you will quickly find a wide array of choices for medical malpractice expert witnesses. You’ll also find that the cost of this service varies greatly, making it a very difficult decision for most. So how do you choose the right medical expert witness for your case? Here are the 3 most important factors to consider before making your decision.
You Get What You Pay For
Should you go with the more respected medical expert who charges exorbitant fees or someone with more reasonable fees but with less distinguished credentials? Some experts may charge up to $1,000 an hour, so hiring a witness is a pricy investment. There are many reasons why certain experts may charge more. Many of these physicians may possess specialized credentials including medical specialty certifications or a Juris Doctorate degree. Others may possess extensive experience with similar malpractice cases, while some may fear potential disciplinary action by regulatory bodies for irresponsible testimony.
Money should be a consideration, but with such high stakes and enormous repercussions on the line, it is almost always in your best interest to hire the most esteemed medical experts available. You only have one chance to drop a malpractice claim from your record, so consult closely with your malpractice attorney to learn an expert’s qualifications.
Competing Expert Witnesses
The principal reason you will want a top medical expert is that the other side will be putting their own medical experts in front of the jury to support their case. In many malpractice trials, the jury will rely on the testimony of these expert witnesses, not only to deconstruct the technical details of the medical actions and decisions, but also to understand how the medical standard of care, or lack thereof, should be interpreted and applied to the situation at hand. A jury may often have to decide between the expert testimonies of both parties when determining a judgment, so securing the most convincing expert may be critical to your success.
Most juries will react similarly to certain witness qualifications. The expert should practice in the same specialty, and preferably, should be actively engaged in treating patients; not only do juries respond less positively to career “expert witnesses,” but some jurisdictions bar their use.
Additionally, it is in one’s interest to hire a physician or provider that is either currently practicing or has practiced in the same geographical region. This allows for shared medical experience and is often times seen as a more credible source in the eyes of the judge and jury. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, hiring a world renowned expert could help elevate your case, but these types of witnesses come with a hefty price tag.
Hiring Multiple Experts
In malpractice trials, there will, of course, be differences of opinion among medical experts, leaving the jury with a difficult choice on which expert is more reliable. In certain cases where there is a great deal of ambiguity, it may be beneficial to hire more than one medical expert witness. If possible, hire exceptional authorities who specialize in various phases of the treatment. Your attorney may wish to dedicate each witness to refuting an alleged damage. Because the outcome of your case may depend on the strength of your expert witnesses, it is vital that the best expert for the case is hired. While tens of thousands of dollars in fees may seem like an unnecessary expenditure, it’s minimal in comparison to the damage that your professional career can incur with an unfavorable ruling.
Article Written by: Robert Moghim, M.D.,- CEO Moghim Medical Consulting Inc.