Who Qualifies As An Expert Witness in a Virginia Medical Malpractice Case?

By nature, claims of medical malpractice often involve complex medical concepts combined with allegations that a healthcare provider failed to appropriately apply those concepts under the circumstances experienced by a particular patient. With this in mind, it makes sense that expecting an average member of the jury to understand and fully grasp the issues involved in a Virginia medical malpractice case with the same clarity as a medical professional would be extremely unreasonable.

This is just one of the reasons why deciding who will act as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case is an important initial step toward maximizing a victim’s total financial compensation. An experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can explain the requirements for expert witnesses laid out by Virginia law and point you in the direction of a reliable expert they have worked with before. 

What Are the Requirements for a Medical Expert in Malpractice Litigation?

medical errors

Every state sets forth its own criteria for who can act as an expert witness in cases of malpractice litigation and what exact steps they are required to take to verify a claim’s validity. There are, however, some rules that are standard across almost all jurisdictions.

To begin with, an expert witness has to be experienced in the exact same field of medicine as the respondent in the malpractice claim. The expert witness is required to have a current license to practice and be currently or quite recently employed in that same field. In some cases, this prerequisite can be satisfied with a combination of practical and academic experience, or through some kind of board certification.  

Secondly, the expert witness is required to be up-to-date on what is regarded as a reasonable medical standard of care under the same or similar circumstances to those experienced by the victim. For instance, if an emergency room doctor is named as the respondent in a malpractice claim, it would be prudent to solicit the testimony of a physician who has previously worked in an emergency room and is familiar with the expected standard of care is for such a high-pressure and chaotic environment.

Similarly, a case that is centered around a mistake made by a specialist who was trained and practices in a very specific field of medicine would best be served by the testimony of another specialist in that same field. Occasionally, it may be necessary to confer with several experts in order to make sure that the jury members and the judge who is overseeing a case are presented with the most concise and coherent idea of exactly what the mistake was, why it was wrong,  and who was responsible. 

Is An Expert Witnesses Always Required in a Medical Malpractice Case?

In most cases, in order to achieve a favorable outcome to their case, a malpractice plaintiff will rely heavily on testimony from at least one expert witness. There are, however, rare occurrences in which enlisting an expert witness’s aid might not be vital to the outcome of a case. 

For instance, if the respondent physician or their staff were the only people with control over the events that led to the victim’s injury, and there is no other possible cause for that injury save for a violation of the applicable standard of care by that physician or their staff, the expert testimony might not be needed to construct a strong and compelling case. It should be noted that it is unwise to assume this will be the case in any claim. The best course of action is always to review possible litigation strategies with an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney first.

Speak With a Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

At the law offices of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we help clients who have been injured due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, hospitals, medics, pharmacists, and more. We are client-focused in our approach to medical malpractice cases and dedicated to getting our clients the financial compensation they deserve. 

If you were injured due to medical negligence, ensuring you have an experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyer by your side is your best chance at recovering your damages. Schedule a free consultation by calling our offices at (833) 997-1774.  

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