Rules of evidence and physician statements of fault, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking a bit about the rules of evidence in medical malpractice cases. Our discussion is specifically about physician admissions of fault and their place in medical malpractice cases. As we’ve noted, Michigan law prevents medical malpractice plaintiffs from using a physician’s sympathetic communications against him or her in court.

The law does not prevent admissions of fault from being used against a physician in court, and we’ve already mentioned a couple ways such statements could be admitted at trial under the rules of evidence. Another possible opening for the admission of such statements is a hearsay exception pertaining to medical treatment and diagnosis statements. 

Under this hearsay exception, statements made for purposes of medical treatment or medical diagnosis in connection with treatment. Such statements are admissible despite their character as hearsay because of the fact that their use for medical treatment and diagnosis gives them heightened reliability. Physician statements providing details about a plaintiff’s condition, what caused the condition, and what is necessary to address the condition can sometimes provide evidence a plaintiff needs to establishing causation and harm for a negligence claim. Such statements, when made with respect to injuries stemming from medical error, can help in building a case for damages as well.

Navigating the substantive and procedural details of medical malpractice litigation, not to mention the potentially complicated medical issues involved, is not something patients can do on their own, and having an experienced advocate is essential to give them the best chance at a successful outcome in their case. 

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