Expert vs. Expert: Using an Opposition Medical Expert Witness to Full Capacity

In any personal injury or medical malpractice case, both sides are likely to rely upon medical expert witnesses. It is necessary, even in the event that an attorney intends to fully depose the plaintiff’s medical expert witness, to consider whether or not hiring your own expert witness will be beneficial.

Credible Evidence and Multiple Expert Witnesses

Courts admit only credible evidence and testimony from credible individuals into court. This is certainly true in medical malpractice and personal injury cases across the country.

How Jurors Evaluate Credibility

The Supreme Court noted in the Daubert case that, even when an unreliable or uncredible expert witness made their way into the courtroom and was submitted in to trial, there were three safeguards to help jurors evaluate the credibility and validity of scientific testimony. These include:

  • presentation of opposing evidence
  • cross-examination, and
  • judicial instructions about the burden of proof within the case.

Using opposing expert testimony can help jurors fully understand the facts of the case, instead of being swayed by an initial expert witness for the plaintiff.

Be Careful that the Expert Clarifies or Overrides Rather than Confuses

Opposing medical expert witness testimony helps jurors question the initial testimony presentation but it is up to the attorney to select the right individual to avoid skepticism of all expert testimony. Instead, they should only highlight the flaws in the other side’s testimony and opinions.

One academic research study sought to explore these issues more fully. Participants in a study of a sexual assault case were largely successful in distinguishing between research that did not include a control group and valid research outcomes.

Participants in the study, however, struggled to recognize the difference between testimony that did not properly counterbalance questions and testimony that was otherwise valid. The research study managers were also interested in learning whether or not all opposing expert witness testimonies simply makes jurors skeptical of any expert who is presented in the courtroom.

The research study managers found no support for a sensitization effect although an opposing expert witness, depending on his or her demeanor and the information presented, can be challenging for jurors to evaluate.

The best way to cope with these challenges is to explore what the other medical expert witness is likely to say. This is the critical first step in untangling whether the testimony likely to be shared is scientifically sound. Thinking from the perspective of the other side in terms of strategy can help to identify the right expert witness. Given that the expert witness for the defense is likely to get the “last word” on the matter, it needs to be a strong and clear presentation for the jury.

If you do not select the right expert witness to oppose the other expert’s testimony, it can be too much information for the jury to process and can generate additional questions rather than persuasion. This is why choosing the right opposing medical expert witness is critical. The individual needs to have experience speaking at trial and the ability to communicate his or her point clearly and effectively.

Looking for the right medical expert witness for your case? Contact us today to speak with a physician and secure a top-tier medical expert with the unique qualifications to address your case.

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