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Who Can Serve as an Expert Witness in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

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Witness giving oath to tell the truth in court case.

Who Can Serve as an Expert Witness in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

In some law cases, an additional expert witness is suggested or needed to come to a conclusion based on the evidence provided. A doctor who is qualified and experienced can choose to become a medical expert witness. 

The usual way for doctors to become expert witnesses is by promoting their expertise in a specific medical discipline. This is done by registering with organizations that keep databases of expert witnesses. 

There are several expert witness networks that doctors can register with. Each one has its own eligibility rules and requirements for joining the network. 

Expert Witness Qualifications

In order to qualify as a medical malpractice expert witness, you will need to have a current, valid, and unrestricted license to practice medicine in your area of expertise. You will also likely need to be board-certified in a specific medical speciality and have specialist qualifications. 

A medical expert witness might also be expected to have been in active practice in their speciality area. They will also need to have relevant clinical knowledge and experience in the industry in the areas of medical practice that are the subject of the court proceedings. 

To become a medical expert witness, you will need to have knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education. This information can be used to help a court to understand the evidence that is presented in a medical-legal case, or to determine the facts of a case. 

There are also some practical requirements for being able to provide expert witness services:

  • Demand for your areas of expertise
  • The ability to follow and meet a deadline
  • A commitment to excellence in your field
  • No license revocations, criminal convictions, past writings that have been controversial, or judgements seen as poor
  • A flexible schedule that will allow you to make appearances at trials and depositions
  • An employer who will allow you to offer your services as an expert witness
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • A complete CV that will allow the retaining counsel to review your professional qualifications
  • A detailed fee schedule, or an expert witness contract
  • Excellent skills in organization, research, and investigation

Ethical Guidelines

An important part of being a medical expert witness is being familiar with the professional ethics involved in a medical or law field. 

Listed here are some of the most critical expert witness ethical guidelines that anyone who wants to offer their services an expert witness should be aware of:

  • Your review of medical facts and opinions should be truthful, impartial and thorough. There should be no information or views that favor the defendant or the plaintiff. 
  • Your testimony should reflect the very latest and proven scientific evidence and accepted practice standards that are prevalent at the time of the medical-legal case in question
  • You should make an effort to thoroughly assess and investigate whether the alleged substandard medical practice was in any way related to the adverse outcome
  • Your fee for your medical witness testimony should directly relate to the amount of time you have to spend on the case and should in no way depend on the outcome of the medical-legal claim
  • You should be willing to submit your testimony for review.