Medical malpractice cases are challenging in that they involve presenting medical information to judges and jurors who may not have any experience in that field. It is the job of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer to show the jury how the defendant’s negligence directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Expert witnesses in a Kingston medical malpractice case could provide an invaluable cornerstone to a plaintiff’s arguments. Seasoned malpractice attorneys often have an arsenal of expert witnesses whom they may be able to call upon to help them pursue a positive outcome in a civil suit.

The Importance of Expert Witnesses

A plaintiff’s attorney must prove four crucial points to the jury to win a medical case:

  • The doctor or medical professional had a duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The doctor or medical professional breached that duty in some way
  • The plaintiff suffered injuries as a direct result of the breach
  • The plaintiff’s injuries led to compensable damages

When seeking to prove breach of duty, experienced attorneys often use an expert witness who is familiar with the same area of medicine as the defendant. They could help establish how a reasonably prudent medical professional would have acted in the same situation.

Without an expert witness to testify on a Kingston plaintiff’s behalf in a medical malpractice case, it could be impossible to prove that the defendant breached their duty. If a jury does not believe that the defendant breached a duty that is the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages, they must deliver a verdict in favor of the defendant. Since jury members are not usually familiar with the medical field, an expert witness could bridge the gap between the medical and legal implications of the defendant’s actions.

The Role of the Expert Witness in Kingston

New York state law defines a Kingston expert witness in a medical malpractice case as someone who is licensed to practice medicine within the United States. To increase their credibility, lawyers often choose experts who are extremely well-versed in the area of medicine surrounding the case. As an example, a juror is more likely to believe the testimony of a heart surgeon in a cardiac-related case than a general practice doctor.

As per New York Civil Practice Law and Rules §3101(a)(3), expert witnesses must disclose all matter material and necessary to the lawsuit for which they are hired. They will be used in depositions conducted by the defense, may be required to respond to written questions, and if the case goes to trial, they would testify under oath in court. Expert witnesses are also often called upon to help with the certificate of merit requirement outlined in NY Civ. Prac. Law and Rules §3012(a).

When Should an Expert Be Hired?

As stated above, it is necessary to hire an expert medical witness to present a case alleging medical malpractice to a jury. However, the laws in Kingston also require plaintiffs to consult with these parties before they may bring a claim for damages to court. According to New York Civil Practice Law & Rules §3012-A, any complaint alleging medical malpractice must include an affidavit from the plaintiff’s attorney affirming that they consulted with a medical professional in the specific field and they agree that malpractice may have occurred. As a result, hiring an expert is a necessity at the earliest stages of a case.

Is an Expert Required for all Medical Malpractice Claims?

There are some limited exceptions when a plaintiff may not need to consult with a medical expert before filing a lawsuit. The first is when a plaintiff intends to pursue the case without the help of an attorney, though this is not advisable due to the complexity of medical malpractice cases.

The other exception is when the medical malpractice is so obvious that an expert’s opinion is not necessary. The legal term for this is res ipsa loquitor, or in English, “the thing speaks for itself”. If the malpractice involves obvious wrongdoing, such as leaving a surgical tool inside a patient, the law waives the expert witness requirement.

How Much do Expert Witnesses Cost in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Pursuing a medical malpractice claim is not quick or easy. Because of the complex nature of much of the evidence, working with a competent and qualified expert is often a major part of the claim.

Medical experts do not work for free. They will likely charge on an hourly basis for al the time that they spend reviewing the case files, forming their opinions, and testifying in court. Plaintiffs should expect these costs to exceed hundreds of dollars per hour. Paying a witness to testify in a medical malpractice case is the cost of pursuing the case. However, with the potentially substantial awards available in these claims, the costs of hiring an expert will likely be offset.

Utilizing Expert Witnesses in Kingston During a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Hiring a lawyer who has experience in medical malpractice law could be the first step towards seeking justice for the injuries you unfairly suffered. Among many other important tools, your lawyer could use expert witnesses to help your Kingston medical malpractice case be more successful. To learn more about filing a medical malpractice case or the use of medical experts in them, consult with a skilled attorney today.