Effective October 1, 2011, certain out-of-state physicians and dentists will have to obtain a Florida Department of Health certification in order to serve as expert witnesses in Florida. This new law is designed to prevent expert witness giving fraudulent statements and hold them accountable for the opinions they provide. An expert witness is a professional by virtue or his or her education, skills or experience that provides expertise in a particular subject which can legally be relied upon. Many of you who watched recent high-profile criminal trials, such as the Dr. Conrad Murray trial, observed expert witness testimony in which the prosecution relied upon to establish how the defendant doctor acts deviated from the standard of care which would be exercised by those in his profession under the circumstances. Similarly, in Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawsuits, expert witnesses are often hired to testify on issues involving causation.
In Florida, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit is required to prove that the defendant was the cause of his or her injuries. Proving causation can be quite complex so the need for expert testimony becomes vital and can be the deciding factor of whether or not a jury will award a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys often hire expert witnesses who are qualified to explain standard of care deviations and how an incorrect medical procedure or incorrect use of medical equipment was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Also, in
Florida, it is a requirement that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s negligent act “probably caused” the plaintiff’s injuries. That is, when expert testimony is introduced, the opinion must be more than mere speculation. The Supreme Court in Wales v. Barnes [278, So. 2d 601, 603 (Fla. 19730], reversed the district court’s decision and ruled that the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony was legally sufficient to establish that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In Wales, the expert physician opined that it was “within reasonable medical probability” that the defendant’s use of a specific type of forceps during the delivery of an infant were not of the standard under the circumstances. In Wales, the plaintiff sued two doctors in a medical malpractice lawsuit, claiming that they were negligent when they used a certain type of forceps during the delivery of their child which caused the child to suffer serious injuries. The infant was later treated for bilateral subdural hematomas. During trial, conflicting evidence was presented which demonstrated that the child may have sustained injuries due to a nonnegligent act, such as becoming injured while traveling through the birth canal. The district court held that the defendant was entitled to a directed verdict because the plaintiff failed to eliminate any other nonnegligent causes of the child’s injuries and nor did the plaintiff offer direct proof that the injury resulted for a definite act of negligence. However, the Supreme Court reversed and held that the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony was legally sufficient to establish causation. Further, the court held that the issue of causation was the particular issue in this case was one for the jury.
However, in contrast, the court in Gooding v. University Hospital Building, Inc., [445 So. 2d 1015, 1017 (Fla. 1984)], ruled that the defendant was entitled to a directed verdict because plaintiff's expert witness failed to testify that immediate diagnosis and surgery would have more likely than not enabled the plaintiff to survive. In short, the Court ruled that the district court was correct when by recognizing that the Florida follows a more likely than not standard in proving causation.
Therefore, Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyers recognize that expert testimony may become vital in your personal injury lawsuit. Because understanding causation can be quite complex for jurors, and juries are not allow to infer negligence from a bad act alone, it will be vital that expert testimony is presented in order to assist the jury in comprehending confusing medical terms, procedures and technology. If you believe that you were hurt or injured as a result of medical malpractice, you should contact an attorney today to discuss your unique situation.
See Our Related Blog Posts:
Birth Related Neurological Injuries and the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan
Personal Injury to Florida Woman During Surgical Procedure