In our last post, we began looking at what Michigan law has to say about the qualifications for expert witnesses in medical malpractice litigation. As we noted, one of the main requirements is that the physician has knowledge and experience practicing in the same field and specialty as the defendant physician.
There are a separate—though not that different—set of factors that are considered for evaluating the qualifications of an expert witness who is being called to provide an opinion on some aspect of a medical malpractice case other than the standard of care. We’ll briefly look at these factors here.
For these expert witnesses, judges are supposed to consider not only the physician’s education, professional training, and area of specialization but also the length of time the expert was engaged in practice or instruction of their profession or specialty. In addition, the court considers whether or not the testimony to be provided by the expert is relevant to the issues at stake in the case. This is a particularly important issue because of how expert witness testimony can impact the way a jury perceives the case.
Judges do have the power to disqualify an expert witness on grounds other than the qualifications we have discussed in this and the last post. This is one reason it is important for a plaintiff to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing medical malpractice litigation. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that one’s rights are protected and that one’s interests in the case are advocated to make for the strongest case possible. One way this is done is by selecting the best possible expert witnesses to testify in one’s case.