There are several ways to find good or bad medical expert witnesses, who will win or lose your case. Each 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.
The Medical Authority – Part IV
Some lawyers prefer to read the medical literature to find an author, whose articles support their claim and try to persuade the medical authority to act as the medical expert witness. When this approach works, it is great, and you may get a world-class medical authority as your expert witness. However, your chances are not good for the following reasons:
- Most physicians distrust lawyers. The more eminent the physician, the more deep-seated this antipathy. Most medical authorities will not give you or your lawyer an appointment, even if you offer to pay for their time, and not one in a 100 will consent to assist you, even if he has written articles that support your case.
In a New Jersey case, a lawyer advised a woman to sue her doctor for malpractice, but the potential defendant doctor was the lawyer’s close friend. They played golf together on weekends. Did the lawyer try to help his doctor friend by arranging an amicable settlement? Did he tell his client that he could not represent her, because he was a friend of the doctor, and she should consult another lawyer? No. He referred her to another lawyer for a large referral fee, while continuing to play golf with the doctor. The doctor eventually found out about his “good buddy’s” treachery, and the story was circulated through the medical profession.
- Medical authorities are not interested in your problem and are not going to take time off from their practices to testify for you. While your case may be the most important thing in your life, to them it is some other doctor’s mess. They do not want to get involved in your case and risk criticism from their fellow physicians. Chances are, even if you succeed in getting an interview with a medical authority, he or she will charge you for an office visit and politely tell you to “get lost.”
- A reason why physicians are reluctant to help you is that one of the tactics lawyers use to win court cases is to discredit the opposing witnesses. Defense lawyers have leeway in questioning a medical expert witnesses’ credentials and credibility, and they often cross the line between legitimate questions and a personal attack. Most physicians do not wish to be subjected to this type of abuse, especially when they are usually being paid less to testify in court than they earn in their practices.
- Appeals to medical authorities to help you in the public interest, or to clean-up the medical profession, and risk their professional standing, are doomed to failure. Physicians know that malpractice lawyers are seeking money for their clients and do not have an interest in the medical profession, except as a source of income. Furthermore, they believe any cleaning up should be done by doctors themselves and not through malpractice lawsuits.
- Your lawyer’s expenses, when traveling to interview medical authorities, will be charged to you as legal expenses, in addition to his fees, and can take a large chunk out of your settlement.
Contact us at 800-225-JDMD (5363) to have your malpractice cases reviewed by JD.MD’s medical expert witnesses.