Expert Testimony in Georgia Malpractice Cases
Experts serve an important role in Georgia medical malpractice and dental malpractice lawsuits. In malpractice cases, doctors an dentists and other experts are frequently asked to offer expert opinions regarding standard of care, causation and damages. The subject matter of their testimony often relates to the the injuries that the plaintiff complains of in the lawsuit, the medical and/or dental treatment rendered to Plaintiff and the resulting injuries, limitations and damages. The subject matter of the tyestiony also includes, in almost all cases, testimony addressing changes in Plaintiff’s quality of life and future needs for medical and dental care due to the injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of the defendant doctor or dentist.
Experts base their opinions on their training, education and experience in their fields of expertise, the medical and dental records relating to Plaintiff, their examinations and treatment of the Plaintiff (if they have, in fact, examined the Plaintiff either as a treating doctor, expert or during an independent medical examination “IME”), information disclosed during discovery (including depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions and other pleading in the case) and the testimony of other witnesses who have have knowledge of facts of the case or any other types of information that experts typically rely upon in forming their opinions.
The facts on which the experts base their testimony include, but are not limited to, past medical history, histories taken of the patient by other medical and dental providers, history of chief complaints, physical examinations, medical records, hospital records, death certificates, autopsy reports, operative reports, results of diagnostic tests, therapeutic treatment plans, x-rays, CT Scans, MRI’s, other imaging studies, photographs, results of therapy and medication, either performed or prescribed by each of the experts or by others in the medical or dental profession that the testifying expert takes into account when rendering the opinion.
The experts’ opinions are usually based on the information which they obtained from tests and procedures performed on the Plaintiff either by the testifying expert or, more than likely by others in conjunction with their education, training and experience in the field of medicine or dentistry or duing their care and treatment of the Plaintiff. Opinions may also be based in whole or in part on facts obtained from medical records generated by others, as this is the type of information that doctors and dentists would normally rely upon when treating patients. The experts’ opinions are often relate to results of physical examinations; results of diagnostic tests; etiology of an injury, diagnosis; basis for diagnosis; causation; recommended treatment; basis for treatment recommended; nature, extent and duration of injury; current limitations; future limitations; past and future medical treatment; pain; medical expenses (present and future); and prognosis.
In order to be admissible, expert opinions are opinions they hold to a reasonable degree of probability in the field of medicine and/or dentistry. The experts discuss, demonstrate and comment upon general principals of anatomy and dentistry, and also about their particular sub-specailty. When formuating opinions, the experts often reserve the right to consider other information that may become available, including the depositions of other fact witnesses and expert witnesses once those depositions have been taken and transcribed in this case. Experts often also rely on additional medical literature to support their opinions.
To illustrate or explain their testimony, experts frequently use and refer to medical or dental records related to the Plaintiff, including reports, x-rays, MRIs, CT Scans, or other imaging studies, anatomical diagrams or models, slides, photographs, videos, animations, pictures, overheads or other demonstrative evidence. In order to illustrate their opinions to the jury, experts often draw and illustrate medical and dental concepts involved in the case and frequently work with illustraters to make sure the illustrations are factually and anatomically accuate. Experts are called in Plaintiffs case in chief and, if necessary, in rebuttal after defense experts have testified.
For over 25 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling dental malpractice, medical malpractice and serious personal injury lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence and malpractice in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright & Fleming, LLC and regularly handles cases in Atlanta as well as Alpharetta, Brookhaven, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, Smyrna, Peachtree City, and other cities in Georgia. He is committed to making a difference in his clients’ lives. If you or a family member have been seriously injured or died as a result of negligence and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about a potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.