A medical expert witness is a medically trained professional who provides consultation and testimony on legal cases.
Got a question? Get your answer here.
Ask us anything, we are here to assist. Get factual responses. Can’t find your answer here? Contact us
The expert assists the attorney in understanding the case facts and whether their case theory is substantiated by the medical records and other documents relevant to the case. They may also offer testimony depending on the needs of the case.
A forensic medical expert witness is a medically trained professional who provides consultation and testimony on criminal cases.
“Forensic” is a term that refers to the use of science in the investigation of a crime.
Review medical records, police reports, photographs, transcripts and other discovery to provide opinions on the medical aspects of criminal cases. Their opinions are typically focused on how traumatic injuries occurred, the severity of the injuries, or how medical conditions affected either the defendant or the victim in the case.
Forensic nurses are more specific as they consult on criminal cases, and they are a nurse. A forensic nurse expert is a type of medical expert witness.
Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) may only consult and don’t necessarily testify. LNCs are also typically associated with civil cases. An “expert witness” infers that the person testifies within their area of expertise.
The educational background and training. The difference iis the same as a nurse or doctor in the healthcare setting.
There are many benefits of working with a nurse instead of a doctor. There is an obvious cost difference, but nurses may also have better jury appeal. Nurses are trained to educate patients about their conditions, so when they testify, they are more experienced in explaining things in layman terms. They also tend to be more humble than doctors, which makes them more likeable by the jury.
What if opposing counsel is using a doctor, shouldn’t both sides use the same level of expert credentials?
It depends on the case and is definitely something that needs to be evaluated. Sometimes it is critical to pitch credentials against credentials (MD against MD). But just because the expert is a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean they are an expert. A nurse that is highly trained in a specific area may have better credibility than the doctor. For example, while they see strangulation patients, emergency room physicians don’t necessarily have specific training on the pathophysiology of strangulation, the expected findings, and the forensic aspects. A nurse that has sought out training on strangulation, and has experience testifying on the subject is going to come across as more knowledgeable and therefore credible than a doctor.
This is based on a few factors: Training and education, clinical experience, and then getting qualified in a court of law. The attorney will present the expert’s qualifications and the judge will rule on whether they are qualified as an expert in specific areas.
As soon as medical records or traumatic injuries are identified as a component of the case theory.
Yes – both. Forensic experts are generally involved in criminal cases.
What types of civil cases are served well by having a medical expert witness as part of the defense or plaintiff’s team?
Most commonly, medical experts are used in medical malpractice or personal injury cases. But medical experts can also be involved in workman’s comp, class action, or any other case where there are physical injuries or medical conditions that are an issue in the case. For example, a medical expert could get involved in a family law case if there are allegations of abuse, even if a criminal case is not being investigated.
What types of criminal cases are served well by having a medical expert witness as part of the defense or prosecution team?
Any case where there are traumatic injuries or medical records. Some examples are DUI, child abuse, domestic violence, strangulation, assault, homicide, elder abuse, workman’s comp and sexual assault. But sometimes a review of the defendant’s medical records is requested when considering sentencing and placement after trial.
Submit New Case:
Sign up for: