Using Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases

According to Nolo, an online encyclopedia of law containing a wealth of current articles on various malpractice topics, expert witness testimony is essential to most medical malpractice court cases. In many states it is required that a person filing a malpractice lawsuit obtain a medical expert’ opinion before they can file their claim in court.

Nolo explains that expert witness testimony plays an instrumental role in malpractice cases. In Illinois, a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer is usually required to attach an affidavit and report to the complaint verifying the a qualified expert has reviewed the case and feels it is meritorious. Without an expert the judge will likely dismiss the case due to the fact that the jury will need an expert witness to help them to better understand the complicated facts regarding medical malpractice.

According to Nolo it is a medical expert’ job to address the following two questions:

Did the doctor or medical facility follow the standard of care for doctors or facilities in the same position?

In addressing the question of standard of care the expert will testify about what a normal, competent doctor would have done in the situation at issue in the case and offer his or her expert opinion on whether or not the particular doctor involved in the lawsuit provided that standard of care.

Did the medical facility’ or doctor’s failure to follow the standard of care injure the patient?

An expert must also testify about whether the doctor’s failure to live up to the standard of care resulted in injury to the patient. The expert will have to explain to the jury how the doctor’ negligence or incompetence resulted in the injury.

Nolo adds that the plaintiffs in the case will have their own team of medical experts which is why it is important to retain your own expert before your case is brought to court. State regulations vary regarding who may testify as an expert and your lawyer can help you to locate an expert in Illinois that will be most beneficial to your particular malpractice case.