As an Atlanta personal injury attorney, I routinely retain experts to testify in every case. In fact, in order to file a medical malpractice case in Georgia state court, one must attach an expert affidavit identifying at least one act of malpractice. The following areas of emphasis are typically what I look for from experts who are retained in my cases.
- A thorough understanding that the standard of care is that degree of skill and care exercised by physicians generally under the same or similar circumstances.
- Remember, you must be able to definitively answer many questions to reasonable degree of medical certainty, which is legal causation and is much less stringent than medical etiology.
- One of the most effective ways to attack an expert is by attacking the factual foundation for his or her opinions. This is done by showing that the expert does not know the facts. The testifying expert must have independent knowledge of the facts through the complaint, medical records, deposition transcripts and other relevant documents. Be prepared to list all the things you reviewed in formulating your opinion. Key language relied on medical consults, reports and other diagnoses in formulating opinions. It is not necessary to examine the plaintiff. You can formulate opinions regarding standard of care based on the medical records.
- Be sure of qualifications to testify against all of the defendants in the case (if applicable). For instance, must talk about extensive experience with working doctors that are (1) rounding for other doctors; (2) doctors who perform surgery related duties, etc.
- Talk about substantial overlap between areas of medicine such as, for example hematologists, surgeons, and hospital internists when it comes to the issues in the case. The name of their subspecialty is not important. It is what they actually do that counts.
- Must not equivocate or say that it would have been nice to do this or that or that it was sloppy or that you would have done it differently. Must state that you are familiar with the standard of care and that the each doctors actions or inactions fell below that degree of skill and care.
- Must articulate how each act of negligence fell below the standard of care.
- Must talk about proximate cause, i.e., that the breach of the standard of care caused, or at least contributed to in conjunction with the other breaches of the standard of care, the injuries that the plaintiff is complaining of in the lawsuit. And, for each act of negligence, but for the act, the injury could have been avoided.
- Must be able to talk about the process of what happened both in medical terms and in layman terms.
- Literature—It is O.K. to rely in part on literature. Must establish that your reliance is limited to this particular article and that it is authoritative, normally relied upon in the field and helpful.
- Must understand that titles are not important. It is what you do on a regular basis that allows you to testify. The actions that form the basis for the malpractice in most cases are performed interchangeably by general practitioners, surgeons, internists, P.A.’s, nurses, specialists, etc. It just depends on which medical provider undertakes the care and treatment of the patient.
- Be prepared to discuss the defendants’ arguments.
- Must be prepared to discuss the literature, including the reputation of the author and the context in which the literature is written.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.