In our previous post, we pointed out that, in addition to the statutory requirements that must be met by expert witnesses, there is also the issue of the credibility of the witness that must be carefully considered. This is important not only because a witness who lacks credibility could potentially be barred from participation in the case, but also because a witness who lacks credibility will not be a valuable asset before a jury.
In medical malpractice litigation, it is not only the technical and legal aspects of the case that need to be considered, but also the more subjective aspects of the case, particularly how a jury will perceive an expert witness. As experts in the field know, an expert witness’ reliability, consistency, honesty, listening skills, communication skills, manners and general likability are very important to consider, since they impact the jury’s assessment of the expert’s credibility, and this can impact the jury’s assessment of whether malpractice occurred.
A skilled attorney, of course, knows not only how to select a qualified expert witness, but also how to properly and legally prepare that witness for testimony. A variety of strategies can be used to help the expert become personally invested in the plaintiff’s case and to provide the jury with the most helpful testimony at trial. This includes making sure that the expert clearly describes to jurors why and how the defendant physician failed to meet the standard of care, as well as the consequences for the patient.
Expert selection and preparation, as well as jury selection, is certainly a meticulous process, and one upon which the success of a medical malpractice case depends. Working with an experienced advocate is critical to ensuring that the choices made and preparations taken in the process are aimed at ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient.