If you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligence of a medical professional, you may be considering filing a medical malpractice case. As most litigants know, there is a cost associated with pursuing a court case. You may wonder whether it is really necessary to hire an expert witness to testify in your medical malpractice case. The short answer is “yes.” In all actions in Georgia alleging professional negligence, Georgia law requires an affidavit of a licensed professional which specifically sets forth at least one negligent act or omission claimed to exist and the factual basis for the claim. Not only is the expert affidavit a requirement, it generally must be attached and filed with the initial compliant. In fact, the success of your case may rest largely on the testimony of expert witnesses.
The Role of Expert Witnesses
In broad terms, proving that a medical professional has negligently caused harm to you or your loved one involves demonstrating that the medical professional failed to follow his or her duty of care. The duty of care is a legal obligation that requires each medical professional to perform his or her job according to recognized standards of reasonable care. In short, each medical professional must do his or her job competently and according to accepted standards within the medical field.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by the actions (or inactions) of a medical professional, you will need to show that the medical professional somehow failed to perform his or her duty as expected. For example, you will need to show that the medical professional failed to diagnose a disease that should have been caught, failed to prescribe the proper medication, failed to properly perform a medical procedure, or the like. This is where a expert testimony is particularly helpful in medical malpractice cases. The expert can testify as to the proper level of care and how the medical professional failed to fulfill his or her duty.
The Attributes of a Qualified Expert Witness
A qualified expert will have the following attributes:
Training – An expert witness will have the proper training to demonstrate that he or she has a full understanding of the particular medical procedures at issue. This may be someone who graduated from a well-respected medical school, who has had years of practical experience, or who has received important fellowships or grants.
Expertise – An expert witness will be someone who can demonstrate a superior knowledge in his or her field. This may be someone who has received awards or other forms of recognition for their expertise, who has published important papers, or has written books on the subject.
Articulation – Although not a legal requirement, a good expert witness is one who can explain technical medical standards and procedures in a way that is easy for a jury and others to understand.
In short, an expert witness is just that–a demonstrated expert in his or her field.
Get the Help of an Experienced Attorney
If you or your loved one has suffered harm at while under the care of medical professional, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.