Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases

If you’re the victim of medical malpractice in Florida, you’re going to need the help of an expert witness to pursue your claim. Florida law requires expert witnesses in all medical malpractice cases.

You rely on your expert to verify that you have a valid medical malpractice claim. You also rely on your expert to explain medical information to the jury. Although your Tampa medical malpractice attorney will help you select the right expert for your case, it’s important to understand the requirements. Here’s what you should know about expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases in Florida.

Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases in Florida

Florida law 766.102 establishes the standards for medical negligence in Florida. To find medical negligence, the jury must find that your medical care provider breached the prevailing professional standard of care. You rely on your expert witness to show the jury how the person who treated you acted in a way that falls below the professional standard of care.

Who Can Be an Expert Witness in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case?

Not just anyone can be an expert witness in a Florida medical malpractice case. A witness must qualify as an expert under Florida law. To qualify as an expert witness in a Florida medical malpractice case, you must:

  • Have an active, valid, medical license
  • Thoroughly review all of the medical records that are relevant to the case
  • Specialize in the same thing as the defendant in the medical malpractice claim
  • Work on the same subject matter as the topic of the case in the last three years; research, clinical programs, and teaching count
  • Work on the same subject matter as the topic of the case in the previous five years for cases involving general practitioners

Why Do You Rely on a Medical Expert in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case?

There are a number of ways that a medical expert is crucial to a medical malpractice case. You rely on your medical expert to establish critical parts of your case. For example, an expert medical witness can help you prove the standard of care. They can help you show the jury what a reasonable doctor should have done in your case. Without medical training, jury members may not know what a reasonable doctor should have done. An expert witness can help the jury understand what the standard of care is for a case like yours.

Also, your expert can explain how your care provider’s actions or inaction amount to medical malpractice. They can help the jury compare the standard of care with the actions of your doctor. Finally, they can help the jury link the doctor’s actions and your injuries. Establishing how the doctor’s actions led to the harm in your case is called establishing proximate cause.

Changes to Rules for Expert Witness Testimony in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases

A decision from the Florida Supreme Court in late 2018 changed the way that the courts look at expert testimony in medical malpractice cases and all other cases. Florida law 90.702, which covers expert testimony in all types of cases in Florida, no longer applies. The Florida Supreme Court threw out Florida law 90.702.

Florida law 90.702 adopted standards for when the courts decide whether to allow an expert witness to testify in a trial. The rule was that the expert’s methods had to be based on any kind of scientific principles. As long as the expert uses a scientific approach to reach their conclusions, the jury can consider the evidence. This standard is also called the Daubert standard.

In the Florida Supreme Court case DeLisle v Crane Co et al., the Florida Supreme Court threw out the Daubert standard and Florida law 90.702. The Supreme Court chose a higher standard for the admission of expert testimony. The court may allow expert testimony only if the expert witness uses well-recognized scientific principles. The expert must base their statement on generally acceptable standards in their respective field. The criteria that they use must be contemporary standards. This standard for admitting expert testimony is called the Frye standard.

The Daubert standard is what the Florida legislature initially adopted in Florida law 90.702. But the Florida Supreme Court in the DeLisle case says that it’s up to the courts to create standards for admission of evidence. They say that it’s the job of the legislature to develop substantive laws, but it’s up to the courts to determine the admission of evidence. The Florida Supreme Court says that the more stringent Frye standard is the standard for admission of expert witnesses going forward in Florida.

How Do I Use a Medical Expert to My Advantage in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case?

If you have a medical malpractice claim, there are several ways that you can harness your medical expert to help you prove your case. First, it’s essential to have the right kind of expert for your claim. Your medical expert needs to meet the requirements for testifying in your case. In addition to that, you should ensure that the expert is fully qualified to assess your case with knowledge. Both sides have a chance to ask your expert questions, so it’s important to make sure that your expert is qualified and able to answer complex questions about the detailed subject matter.

Be completely honest with your legal team and your medical expert. If there are details that are unflattering to your case, it’s a safe bet that the other side is going to know about those details. When your medical expert knows all of the facts, they can offer you an honest opinion so that your attorney can prepare your case. Your attorney can help you understand how a medical expert can help you with your case.

Medical Malpractice Experts Attorneys in Florida

Are you facing a medical malpractice claim? Are you feeling frustrated or like you don’t know where to start? The skilled legal team at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys in Tampa can help. We know how to evaluate your case and find the right medical expert to help you pursue your claim. You shouldn’t have to fight alone. Our team has thousands of satisfied customers, and we can put our experience to work for you. Contact us today to talk about your case.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 36 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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