Our court system offers various ways to introduce evidence, and medical-legal solutions are often utilized to establish the facts of a case. Eyewitness testimony is essential, but many cases require the opinion of an expert witness.
Eyewitness or factual witness testimony is based on details a witness observed during an incident. An expert witness, however, has no direct knowledge of the incident in question and, therefore, cannot testify about observations.
What Expert Witnesses Do
The role of an expert witness is quite unique. In complex cases, courts sometimes rely on individuals with specialized training to explain the evidence. Serving as subject matter experts, these witnesses compare their knowledge to the facts of the case and reach practical conclusions.
Court cases often deal with complex medical facts that require explanation by a doctor or nurse. Dallas Expert Witness Nurses routinely serve the courts in this role and rely on their scientific backgrounds to assess case evidence.
Statement of Qualifications
All expert witnesses must certify their expertise with the courts. A Law firm needing an expert witness will obtain a detailed curriculum vitae from that professional and thoroughly review all credentials.
Expert witnesses should take care to ensure they only offer opinions on their exact specialty.
Forming an Opinion
One expert witness is hired and provided with various documents to analyze, including a statement of claim and defense, patient charts, and transcripts. Analysis can reference best practices, how case details align with those practices and other pertinent information. Law firms who retain expert witnesses specify whether opinions presented will be verbal, in writing, or both.
It is paramount that an opinion is reliable, accurate, and relevant to case facts. An Expert witness must be able to factually align eyewitness testimony with their view or run the risk of the opinion being rendered useless.
Going to Trial
There may be instances where Expert Witness Nurses in Dallas TX are called to testify in court. Before testifying, either lawyer representing both sides will agree to the witness, or a separate trial called a voir dire will be held to review the witness’s background and expertise.
If a voir dire is required, the court will require that four benchmarks are met to hear the witness’s expert opinion on the case:
- Necessary to assist the court—the view will provide important information that is outside the expertise of the court or jury
- Relevance—the opinion relates to a matter pertinent to the case
- Qualifications—the expert must meet established requirements to serve as a specialist
- Absence of an exclusionary rule—there must be no exclusions that prevent expert testimony
When the court forms an opinion about an expert witness, it does so in writing and includes details from the witness. For example, in its Reasons for Judgment, a judge might write:
“The defendant called an expert witness in emergency nursing care, Kathleen O’Neill R.N., who has years of experience in clinical nursing and teaching best practices for a university program. In her opinion, the lab results were properly analyzed, and appropriate care was provided.”
Often, multiple expert witnesses are utilized by both the Plaintiff and defendant. In nonjury trials, it is the judge’s role to weigh the evidence in totality to reach a decision. For example:
“As part of her profession, Nurse Miller must practice with reasonable skill. Two experts called by Defendant, Nurses Branson, and Gorek, affirmed that the care Nurse Miller provided did comply with protocols. Nurse Caruso disagreed with this assessment. One expert was called by Plaintiff. This court accepts the opinions of Nurses Branson and Gorek.”
A judge may also determine that an expert witness is not qualified to provide specific evidence. Because medicine and nursing are different specialties, they have their own standards of practice. A ruling might determine:
“Expert witness Dr. Franklin gave opinions on emergency nursing care. Because this is not his specialty, the court finds he is not qualified to provide these opinions. Thus, these opinions alone will be removed from the record and not considered in the court’s judgment.”
It is not unusual for a judge to determine that multiple experts have roles in a case, particularly with doctors and nurses who often work together. The court uses all evidence to define specific roles of experts. For example:
“After reviewing all expert testimony, I am satisfied that Nurse Miller’s role in the emergency room is to monitor lab results and report changes or problems. This role was affirmed in the testimony of Nurse Miller and experts Dr. Franklin and Nurses Branson and Gorek.”
Legal Medical Consulting, such as those provided by Dallas Expert Witness Nurses, play an essential role in obtaining fair verdicts and ensuring a just legal system.