4 Tips for Finding Qualified Medical Malpractice Experts

Victims of medical malpractice often pursue legal claims against health care providers for compensation with respect to their losses. When a legal case is opened against a medical facility or provider, evidence will need to be organized and presented during discovery to support the victim’s claim. Often, this process will include securing one or more medical malpractice experts who can testify on behalf of the plaintiff to indicate their opinion that the defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s losses. Thus, finding a qualified expert is a very important task that may determine the outcome of the case. Finding a medical expert is usually handled by the attorney, but plaintiffs might be able to help by checking with the following sources.

City or county medical associations.

Often, a city or county medical association may exist in the community where the victim resides. While the medical association may not necessarily maintain a database of medical experts for testimony purposes, they may know of and be able to recommend nurse experts or physicians who have provided legal testimony in similar cases. Not every doctor and nurse or other medical professional is willing to review a patient’s records and provide legal testimony during discovery or courtroom proceedings. But those that are sometimes are known and referred to by the local medical association.

Area bar association.

Similarly, the local bar association in a city or region might have a list of local experts that provide this type of legal service. If a formal list is not on file, bar association employees may know of medical experts who have worked on previous cases and be willing to provide a name and contact information. Sometimes they prefer to work directly with the plaintiff’s attorney, and if so, the attorney will request the experts’ information.

Medical service providers.

Hospitals and medical groups usually know of experts within their ranks who work with attorneys as legal experts. They can sometimes recommend the experts to attorneys or victims who are looking for medical expertise in reviewing records and providing legal support to the case.

Medical malpractice victims with similar issues.

Inquiring by word of mouth about others who have been involved in medical situations where experts provided testimony can lead to informal referrals to experts who may be willing to work with an attorney on a specific case in a medical area where the expert has experience.

Attorneys have access to professional databases of medical experts who are willing to review legal claims and provide an informed opinion. The experts should be vetted in terms of credentials, including academic preparation, job history, and legal experience to determine their suitability for a particular legal case.

How To Hire the Best Medical Malpractice Experts

After filing a malpractice lawsuit and while preparing for trial, the plaintiff’s attorney will begin searching for relevant medical malpractice experts. These should not include medical personnel who have treated the plaintiff or who are affiliated with medical practitioners involved with the plaintiff in any way. Often, the malpractice experts are selected from a database containing names with credentials from around the country. Sometimes an attorney has worked with a specific expert in previous cases and will request that person’s participation again. However, when looking for the best malpractice expert for a case, keep the following tips in mind.

Specialization.

Matching an expert to a specific plaintiff injury may be simple if the damages are clearly related to an accident or the presumed negligence of the defendant. For example, if the plaintiff works in a restaurant where proper safety precautions are not taken to protect employees from burn injuries while handling hot food, the restaurant owner and manager may be at fault. However, if the plaintiff’s injuries are potentially due to carelessness on his or her part, or if a burn injury, for example, gets infected possibly due to an underlying health condition like diabetes, an expert with specialization in both areas might be needed. Try to find an expert who has pertinent knowledge on the specific type of injuries or conditions involved.

Location.

An expert who lives across the state within driving distance will be cheaper to hire in terms of travel expenses than one who lives across the country. Airplane fare, interstate tolls, lodging, and meals may be added to the expert’s fee. If you have a choice between two equally competent experts, consider hiring the one that resides closer.

Experience.

A malpractice expert may be highly knowledgeable about his or her field of medical study, but experience is extremely important. Ten years of bedside care or clinical practice providing hands-on experience enhances the academic credentials and research conducted by someone in a particular area of medicine. If possible, it is advisable to hire someone who has given malpractice testimony previously so that he or she will know what to expect and hopefully be prepared to do an expert job.

Testimonials.

Medical malpractice experts sometimes provide in their vitas the testimonials of lawyers with whom they have worked. This helps to support their credibility claims and reassure the attorney they are comfortable with and successful in courtroom or deposition testimony and cross examination.

Often, the success of a malpractice claim rests on the testimony of an expert’s testimony. An expert with solid knowledge in the designated medical field may not be able to stand up to defendant’s questioning or challenges. Look for an expert with proven courtroom experience.