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Medical Malpractice

Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Claims

October 17, 2023

Medical malpractice claims are probably the most difficult and complex type of personal injury cases. One reason is that these cases often involve complicated terminology. Another reason is that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish an unsuccessful outcome from malpractice. Ultimately, it is almost impossible for a non-lawyer to successfully pursue a medical malpractice claim. You need professional help in proving your case to make sure you can get the compensation you need. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need and will know what it takes to build the strongest case possible. 

Will You Need an Expert Witness? 

Most medical malpractice claims depend heavily on evidence provided by expert witnesses. Unless your case is absolutely clear-cut and the evidence is overwhelming, you will need to prove various elements of your claim. Unfortunately, many of these elements will require testimony from an expert witness. For example: 

  • Testimony concerning the applicable standard of care
  • Testimony concerning how your healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care
  • Testimony concerning how the medical malpractice impacted your health
  • Testimony concerning what medical care would be reasonably necessary to regain your health

To be clear, you may not need an expert witness for every element of your case. It is likely, however, that you will need an expert witness to testify as to the standard of care and how your physician or other healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care. The standard of care is not as straightforward as it may sound – it is measured according to what a similarly trained and educated healthcare professional in the same situation would have done. As a result, there can be considerable disagreement over what the actually is in your case, which is why a third-party expert witness is necessary. 

Who Serves as an Expert Witness? 

The expert witness is typically a healthcare professional who has expertise in that particular area. If the malpractice was committed by a doctor, then the expert witness will typically be a physician. Surgeons will serve as expert witnesses where there was surgical malpractice, whereas a dentist would serve as an expert witness if you suffered from dental malpractice. A hospital administrator may serve as an expert witness if the malpractice was caused by an administrative error at the hospital level

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help with Your Expert Witness

Your lawyer will know when expert testimony will be necessary. More importantly, they typically have a network of experts that they work with on their cases. They will know which one will be best suited to testify in your case. Your lawyer will work closely with the expert witness to make sure they are fully prepared for trial. 

You May Need an Expert Witness Even if You Don’t Go to Trial

Expert witnesses can also serve as consultants in a medical malpractice case. They can work with your lawyer to evaluate the strength of your case and identify the evidence they will need for your claim to be successful. An expert witness can bring valuable insight to your case that can help in getting it settled as quickly as possible. In addition, they will be well prepared to testify in court if settlement becomes impossible. 

Expert Witnesses Are an Additional Expense 

You should be aware that expert witnesses do not work for free. Most expert witnesses will work on an hourly basis and may wind up charging thousands of dollars. At the outset of your case, you should discuss with your medical malpractice lawyer how the experts they work with charge their fees. In many cases, the law firm may advance the fees and then deduct them from any compensation you receive. Regardless, you want to have an estimate of what those fees will cost and how they will be paid from the very beginning of your case. 

Injured as a Result of Medical Malpractice? Contact Ragain & Clark

We have been helping medical malpractice victims in Montana and Wyoming for over 30 years. We understand the challenges our clients face and we therefore do everything we can to help them overcome those challenges. It’s about more than just compensation – it’s about helping you and your family get your life back. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact us today at 307-388-6400 (Worland) or 406-651-8888 (Billings) to schedule a free consultation.


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