Expert evidence and medical malpractice claims

Expert Evidence and Medical Malpractice Claims

Expert testimony is a key component to achieving success in the complex area of medical malpractice law. Medical malpractice lawyers must carefully select and prepare expert witnesses to effectively present their cases and advocate for their clients’ interests.

Through the expertise of qualified professionals, victims of medical negligence can substantiate their claims, establish negligence, and secure redress for injuries suffered due to a doctor or other healthcare professionals’ negligence.

This article explores the significance of expert evidence in medical malpractice claims, the process of presenting such evidence, and its impact on legal outcomes.

What is a medical expert witness?

An expert witness is an individual possessing specialized knowledge, training, or experience within a specific field, and thus deemed qualified to provide testimony in court.

In medical malpractice proceedings, an expert witness is a medical specialist who may provide a credible opinion about the standard of care, assess the defendant’s actions, and evaluate the injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiff.

Expert witnesses have a duty to provide impartial, independent, and objective opinions, devoid of bias, with the primary goal of aiding the trier of fact.

What is the role of expert evidence?

Expert evidence holds unparalleled significance in medical malpractice claims. This testimony, often provided by medical professionals (typically, physicians, nurses, surgeons, or other licensed practitioners), serves as a cornerstone in elucidating intricate medical concepts for judges and jurors.

Expert evidence serves several important functions in medical malpractice cases, including the following:

1. Establishing the standard of care

Medical experts address the critical question of whether the defendant’s care aligns with the expected standard. They rely on their expertise, medical publications, and guidelines to outline what a competent professional in the same situation would have done.

2. Assessing breach of duty

Experts evaluate whether the defendant’s healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care. They analyze the actions of the healthcare provider and determine whether they met the expected level of competence and skill.

3. Establishing causation

Medical expert witnesses provide expertise and analysis to help determine whether the substandard care provided by a healthcare professional directly caused the plaintiff’s injury or harm.

The expert thoroughly reviews relevant medical records, including patient history, diagnostic tests, treatment plans, and outcomes. This comprehensive analysis helps the expert understand the medical context and determine causation.

4. Assessing damages

In medical malpractice cases, assessing damages entails a thorough process typically involving input from several experts. Plaintiffs often consult multiple specialists to evaluate the severity of their injuries and their effect on daily activities.

Moreover, plaintiffs may seek the assistance of economists or accountants to calculate past losses, such as lost income and medical expenses, and to project future care needs and income loss based on evaluations conducted by medical experts.

The Qualifications of Medical Experts

Within Canada, each province delineates specific criteria for the qualification of medical experts. Typically, these experts must hail from the same medical specialty as the defendant, ensuring a nuanced understanding of the standards pertinent to the case.

The most credible experts often actively practice medicine, staying abreast of evolving standards and practices. Criteria such as board certification, publication history, courtroom experience, and teaching credentials further bolster an expert’s standing.

The Process of Presenting Expert Evidence in Medical Malpractice Claims

Below is an overview of the step-by-step process of presenting expert evidence in such claims, highlighting its significance in substantiating allegations and seeking justice.

Selection of Experts

Choosing an expert is a crucial initial step, ensuring they possess expertise in the same medical field as the defendant. Experts may include professors or certified professionals, and adherence to procedural rules prevents the exploitation of expert witness roles. Requirements often demand recent practical or teaching experience to maintain credibility.

Preparation

Prior to trial, medical malpractice lawyers work closely with the selected experts to prepare their testimony. This involves reviewing medical records, conducting interviews, and ensuring that the expert’s opinions are well-supported and articulated clearly.

Depositions

Medical malpractice lawyers conduct depositions—formal question-and-answer sessions—where the opposing counsel examines the selected experts of the opposing party’s witnesses to explore their qualifications, opinions, and strategies. Depositions enable both parties to evaluate the strength of the other expert’s testimony and find potential flaws.

Trial Testimony

As the trial unfolds, expert witnesses take the stand to present their opinions and rationale to the judge or jury. Their testimony serves a fundamental role in elucidating intricate medical concepts, helping the trier of fact comprehend the complexities surrounding the alleged malpractice.

An Example of Expert Testimony Connecting Negligence to Maternal and Newborn Harm

The following scenario highlights the importance of expert testimony in establishing the legal link for the healthcare provider’s negligence:

During labour, an expectant woman is monitored for fetal well-being. However, due to the healthcare provider’s negligence, there is a failure to effectively monitor fetal heart rate and vital signs, resulting in undetected fetal distress.

This failure to uphold the standard of care anticipated during childbirth constitutes a stark case of medical negligence.

Expert Testimony for Causation

Legal protocols necessitate expert testimony to establish a direct link between the failure in fetal monitoring and any resulting harm to the infant or mother. An obstetrician specializing in fetal monitoring provides crucial testimony, outlining how the monitoring inadequacy directly contributed to or worsened complications during childbirth.

Involvement of the Physician Expert

The physician expert, leveraging their professional insight, focuses on elucidating the alignment of the lapse in fetal monitoring with the acknowledged standard of care. The expert’s evaluation centres on how this lapse significantly impacted the overall health of both the mother and the newborn.

Serving as a critical instrument, the expert’s testimony plays a pivotal role in substantiating the legal connection between the negligent act (failure in fetal monitoring) and the adverse outcomes experienced during childbirth.

Exceptions to Expert Requirements

While the landscape of medical malpractice litigation is often punctuated by the reliance on expert testimony, exceptions to this paradigm do exist. Clear instances of medical professional fault may negate the need for expert testimony. However, navigating this complex terrain requires caution, as legal exceptions can be ambiguous.

Prudent litigants exercise judicious discernment, seeking guidance from legal experts to navigate the intricacies of exceptions and ascertain their applicability to the specific circumstances at hand.

The Impact of Expert Evidence on Legal Outcomes

Expert evidence significantly influences legal outcomes in medical malpractice claims. Experts contribute by defining the standard of care, establishing causation, and influencing the court’s decisions. The credibility and qualifications of these experts play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of legal proceedings.

Their expertise often leads to settlement negotiations, highlighting the strength of one party’s case. Moreover, expert testimony can set legal precedents and impact healthcare practices, shaping the landscape of future cases in the medical profession.

Contact Sommers Roth & Elmaleh for Expert Legal Representation

At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, our team of seasoned professionals is committed to ensuring justice for individuals affected by medical negligence.

With the necessary expertise and resources, we adeptly navigate complex legal proceedings, advocating for rightful compensation in cases involving misdiagnosis, surgical errors, obstetric malpractice, and various forms of medical negligence.

To discuss your case and take the first step toward holding negligent medical professionals accountable, call us at 1-844-940-2386 or contact us here.

Disclaimer and Liability Exclusion

The information on this page is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. It does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Readers should seek specific legal advice regarding any specific legal issues. We do not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or quality of the information on this page. The posts on this page are current as of their original date of publication, but they should not be relied upon as timely, accurate or fit for any particular purpose.

Accessing or using this web site or the content herein does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

This page may contain links to third party web sites. We are unable to, and do not, monitor and guarantee the quality of the information disseminated and accessible through those links, which are provided for convenience only. We do not endorse the information contained in linked web sites nor guarantee its accuracy, timeliness or fitness for a particular purpose.

    If you have been affected by medical malpractice anywhere in Canada contact us for a free consultation.
    You pay us nothing unless we win.



    A lawyer from Sommers Roth & Elmaleh will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please note that no lawyer-client, advisory, or fiduciary relationship is created by your inquiry. All information provided is confidential.

    The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.


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    Dear Mr Hilik Y. And Jeremy Syrtash. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you and Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation staff for all you have done with respect to my wife case. My wife was a victim of Medical Malpractice after giving birth to our daughter. She become legally disabled both physically and mentally. The entire family devastated emotionally as my wife struggle to cope with the new reality. The case of Medical Malpractice is quite often a complex case to prove. However, due to your strong commitment, knowledge and dedication combined with strong professionalism the case was successfully won after a long arduous fight. The victory would not have been possible without your dedication and thorough research in the implementation of the standards of the Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation. Justice prevailed at last which in turn allowed my vulnerable wife to feel more optimistic about her future and that of our family. The positive outcome of this case has changed our lives forever. It would not have been possible without the excellent representation of Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation and its legal counsel. My wife and I will be deeply grateful for the successful outcome of this case for many years to come. Solomon Regassa
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