Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Trials

Get the Help You Need Now
Contact Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm
Free Consultation
★★★★★ Google 300+ Google Reviews

The success of any medical malpractice case may depend on expert witnesses.

You must determine what witnesses you need, what they will testify to, and the procedural steps to enter their testimony into evidence.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton explain expert witnesses in the trial stage.

Medical Malpractice Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses in medical malpractice trials are witnesses with specialized knowledge. They help the jury understand complex healthcare information that is beyond the knowledge of an ordinary person.

An expert must be qualified. The party presenting an expert witness at trial must take the correct procedural steps to admit the testimony.

Understanding Experts in Medical Malpractice Cases

By their very nature, medical malpractice cases involve scientific evidence. However, to the ordinary juror, medical information may be difficult to understand. The role of the expert is to explain complex or technical information that is beyond the understanding of an untrained person.

There are special standards and procedures for the use of expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases.

Who Can Testify as an Expert Witness in a South Carolina Medical Malpractice Case?

An expert witness can testify in a South Carolina medical malpractice case when:

  1. The subject matter is beyond the ordinary knowledge of the jury.
  2. The expert knows the subject matter, and they can explain it.
  3. The testimony is reliable.

Graves v. CAS Med. Sys., 401 S.C. 63, 74 (2012).

All three criteria must be satisfied for the expert to testify. Watson v. Ford Motor Co., 699 S.E.2d 169, 175 (2010).

South Carolina Rule of Evidence 702 allows testimony by experts when scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact (the jury) to decide the case and the witness is qualified based on standards for expert witnesses.

Which element can an expert witness testify to in a medical malpractice case?

An expert witness in a medical malpractice case can testify to any issue that may require specialized or technical knowledge for the jury to understand. Commonly, expert witnesses explain the professional standard of care and how it was breached. They explain how malpractice resulted in harm. They may explain the medical implications of what happened and the damages that should be paid in compensation.

Will There Be a Medical Expert Witness In Your Case?

In South Carolina, there are four common situations where you would use an expert witness in a medical malpractice case:

Notice of Intent to File Suit and affidavit of expert witness

Before you even officially file your medical malpractice case in South Carolina, you need an expert witness. South Carolina law requires a plaintiff to submit a Notice of Intent to File Suit and an affidavit of an expert witness before they file their summons and complaint. The expert must be licensed and qualified by board certification or actual professional knowledge and experience. The affidavit must specify at least one negligent act or omission and summarize the factual basis of the claim. S.C. Code § 15-79-125; S.C. Code § 15-36-100.

Establishing the professional duty of care and breach of duty

To receive compensation, a victim must establish that a healthcare provider breached the professional standard of care. An expert witness can explain the standard of care and how the defendant breached it.

Proving the cause of harm

For a victim to receive damages, medical malpractice must be the cause of their harm. To establish causation, you may present an expert witness. The witness can explain how the actions or inaction of the defendant resulted in harm to the victim.

Quantifying damages

When injuries are physical, you may need an expert witness to explain their implications. The expert may explain how long it will take to heal, the medical care that you may need in the future, and your expenses. This testimony can form the basis of your claim for damages.

Who decides if an expert witness can testify in a medical malpractice case?

The judge decides whether a person is qualified to testify as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case. They may consider:

  1. The scientific methodology used to form the basis of the testimony
  2. Peer review
  3. General acceptance of the scientific basis and conclusions
  4. Rate of error or technique used

State v. Council, 515 S.E.2d 508 (S.C. 1999).

How do you admit expert testimony in a medical malpractice case?

Admitting expert testimony in a medical malpractice case begins long before your trial date. You must identify the need for an expert. You must find someone who is qualified.

Expert witnesses and their opinions are subject to the discovery provisions of South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26(b)(4). The parties must comply with discovery rules of disclosure to prevent exclusion of the proposed testimony.

When you call the witness to the stand, you question them about their professional background and qualifications. You move to admit them as an expert witness. The defense may ask questions to challenge the person’s qualifications as an expert. Once the court approves of the expert, you question them about the case and their professional opinion.

Challenging defense expert witnesses

It is important to present expert witnesses as the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case. In addition, you must respond effectively to the defendant’s use of experts. You may challenge a proposed defense expert who is not qualified. You may motion the court to have their testimony excluded, or you may attack their testimony through cross-examination.

Expert testimony can be among the most critical – and disputed – parts of a medical malpractice claim. Using the right experts and following the right procedural steps can be a determining factor in your case.

Get Legal Help With a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

At Schiller & Hamilton, we know that expert witnesses are critical in any medical malpractice case. As attorneys, we carefully undertake everything needed for your case, including the preparation of expert witnesses. See how our mindful, relentless legal representation can work to your advantage when you need an expert witness in your medical malpractice case. Contact us online for legal help or call 843-379-5006 24/7.

Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm

We’ve Got Your Back
Call Us for a Free Case Evaluation

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.