We will discuss several ways to find good or bad medical expert witnesses, who will win or lose your case. Each way has its advantages and disadvantages. Experts that appear to be the least expensive, and easiest to engage their services, may turn out to be the most expensive, if they lose your case. Here is how to avoid the common pitfalls.
A Relative or Close Friend who is a Doctor – Part III
What if you have a relative or close friend who is a doctor and who offers to help you?
You are sure he will not let you down, and furthermore, he might even do it for nothing and save you money. That would solve a lot of problems. It could also be one of the surest ways to destroy your case. The law says that an expert witness may not have an interest in the outcome of the case, in which he testifies. That is to make sure the expert’s testimony is reliable and he does not try to mislead the jury by knowing that he will be paid more if the case is won, than if it is lost. The expert has to receive the same reward or payment, no matter who wins, and preferably before he gets on the witness stand.
Earlier we described a Kentucky case in which the lawyer tried to use his brother-in-law as his medical expert witness, and the judge refused to let him testify. If your expert is a relative or close friend he may even be disqualified by the judge, and not allowed to testify, because of a potential interest in the outcome of the case. Even if the judge allows him to testify, the opposing lawyers will question him about his connection to you, how much he is being paid, and who is paying him. If you were a juror, what would you think of a medical expert witness, who admitted that he was doing it to help a relative or friend? Would you think his testimony was impartial? Would you believe him?
Even more dangerous is the local doctor who offers to help you only because he really wants to help the doctor you are suing. So, he lulls you into a false sense of security, or gives your lawyer misleading opinions, until it is too late to find another medical expert witness or amend your pleadings. It does not happen often, but when it does, it is a disaster. If it happens, you may be able to repair the damage, but it is better not to have it happen at all.
The Rule Is: Try not to use local doctors, who practice in the same community as the defendant, either to evaluate your case or act as an expert witness.
Contact us at 800-225-JDMD (5363) to have your malpractice cases reviewed by JD.MD’s medical expert witnesses.