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Expert Witnesses General Information Legal Definitions

Expert Witness Nurses in Court 

Expert witness nurses used to be something of a rarity. Traditionally, only physicians were used as medical expert witnesses. However, these days it is not uncommon for a legal team to hire a nurse as an expert witness. This is especially true if the case in question involves alleged nursing malpractice. Expert witness nurses are also hired by medical error prevention teams and malpractice insurance companies. Explore the role of an expert witness nurse in court and how it could possibly benefit your team

What is an Expert Witness in Court?

An expert witness is someone whose specialized skills allow them to speak with knowledge on cases related to those skills. This is different from other witnesses who may be called to court to testify about something they may have seen or heard in relation to the case. An expert witness can use their knowledge to give informed opinions on the facts set before them by the case and draw potential conclusions based on other scenarios they have seen. 

For example, in a legal case discussing an auto accident, they may call a mechanic who specializes in that particular type of car.

How are Expert Witnesses Chosen?

Expert witnesses are chosen by the legal team they work with. They are hired based on their skills, qualifications, and previous experience with similar cases. If one party is using an expert witness, they are usually required to notify the other party in the case by giving them the expert witnesses’ contact information and what subject they are experts in. This is to give the other side time to adequately prepare for trial. 

It is entirely possible for both sides to hire expert witnesses that draw completely different conclusions. It is important to include the qualifications of any potential expert witness because they could be called into question by the opposing side. 

What Kind of Nurses are Expert Witnesses?

In order to be considered an expert witness, the nurse in question should be as highly experienced and certified as possible. At a minimum, a nurse expert witness must be an RN or a Registered Nurse. This means that they have completed either an associate’s degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then they passed the NCLEX examination to become a registered nurse. 

An RN with an unencumbered nursing license from the State Board of Nursing (BON) is just the minimum for an expert witness nurse. Because they are speaking in court from a place of expertise and experience, it is best that an expert nurse witnesses also have a higher degree of nursing education, such as a Master’s of Science in Nursing, which would make them an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. The highest educational degree available in nursing is a DNP or Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Some nurses hoping to become expert witness nurses get further educational certificates, such as a post-master’s certificate in forensic nursing, which allows them to work with coroners to determine the cause of death. This is useful in cases of potential homicide or criminal negligence possibly leading to death. 

In addition to education, the expert witness nurse must have decades of experience in both the practical, and clinical areas of nursing as well as the administrative side. An ideal expert nurse witness has extensive experience both as a nurse in a clinical setting and as a leader of nurses enforcing standards of care. 

What is the Role of an Expert Witness Nurse?

During the trial an expert witness nurse will review all the medical records associated with the case and provide their opinion on whether or not the case has merit. This is a lengthy process involving a lot of research, including looking into the administrative code of the Board of Nursing for the state in which the case is being tried. 

If they decide to go forward with the case, the court may ask that the expert witness nurse file a Certificate of Merit, which can be used by the state to go forward with the case. 

An expert witness nurse may be called upon during trial to testify, or they may just do “behind the scenes” work gathering evidence, explaining medical documents and helping create a medical file for the client. This kind of support can make or break a complicated trial. 

Legal Medical Consulting

There is no better expert witness nurse in Dallas, TX than those at Legal Medical Consulting. Dr. McNew and his team have the knowledge and experience to help you win your case. Give us a call or check out the website and see what we can do for you today. 

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