Malpractice Attorneys ’ Case: Experts

Malpractice attorneys represent victims of medical malpractice. In order for a medical malpractice victim to recover compensation, it is not enough that a reasonable person would find that the doctor in question erred.

Rather, with rare exceptions, another doctor must testify that the doctor deviated from the appropriate standard of care. The testifying doctor is known as an “expert witness.” The law specifies a number of qualifications that the expert must possess.
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To Win, Malpractice Attorneys Must Retain Qualified Experts

One of the qualifications is that the expert must be in practice himself for at least a year before the date of the alleged malpractice. A recent medical malpractice attorneys’ case illustrates this point.

A woman we’ll call Rachel experienced difficulty breathing. A tomogram showed that her stomach was located in her chest. (Normally, the stomach’s location is below the chest).

A surgeon, whom we’ll call Doctor Alexander, operated on Rachel. After the operation, Rachel experienced severe complications. Another surgeon had to perform numerous other procedures on her. She was not able to return home for nearly six months.

Rachel hired medical malpractice attorneys to sue Doctor Alexander. The medical malpractice attorneys hired an expert to provide the legally-required affidavit that Rachel had a meritorious case. We’ll call the expert Doctor John.

Doctor John gave the medical malpractice attorneys his resume. The resume claimed that Doctor John had been in surgical practice for more than 35 years.

Medical Expert Shouldn’t Have Resume Problem

Unfortunately for Rachel, Doctor John’s resume was inaccurate. In fact, he had been retired for about five years from surgery. Therefore, he was not qualified under the law to be Rachel’s expert.

The problem revealed itself when Doctor John gave out-of-court testimony. This occurred about three and a half months before trial. Two weeks before trial, the defense lawyers moved to dismiss the case.

The trial judge granted the motion. Rachel’s medical malpractice attorneys appealed.

Fortunately for Rachel, the appeals judges reversed the trial judge. The appeals judges agreed that Doctor John was not eligible to testify. But they allowed the medical malpractice attorneys an opportunity to hire a different expert. Rachel will still get her day in court.

It was not the fault of Rachel that Doctor John’s resume was not up-to-date. Therefore, I believe that the appeals judges made the right decision.

This case also highlights the importance of medical malpractice victims hiring experienced malpractice attorneys. Experience teaches malpractice attorneys to verify that all expert resumes are current.

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