The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Cases

Expert witness testimony is one of the most critical forms of evidence in a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice claim. An expert witness’s purpose is to aid the court or jury in understanding medical evidence or medical facts that are at issue in the case. Generally, both parties call expert witnesses to bolster their claims or defenses. Expert testimony is typically essential in Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawsuits, as such injury victims should consult with an attorney to ensure that they have access to the most appropriate experts.

In 2016, Washington D.C adopted the Daubert standard under the Federal Rules of Evidence 702. Under Rule 702, the court can qualify an expert as a witness if they exhibit the knowledge, skills, experience, training, or education in the relevant field. Expert testimony is appropriate if:

  • The expert’s scientific, technician, or specialized knowledge will aid the fact finder to understand issues or determine facts;
  • The testimony is founded on sufficient data or facts;
  • The testimony is based on reliable methods and principles; and
  • The expert has reliably applied the methods to the case at hand.

What is the Daubert Standard?

Under the Daubert standard, judges maintain broad “gatekeeping responsibility” when admitted testimony. Cases hinging on an expert’s testimony often fall on the reliability of the expert’s methods. For instance, a recent cruise ship medical malpractice case highlighted the importance of an expert’s testimony.

In that case, a cruise ship passenger suffered stomach pains while onboard the ship. He was admitted to the ship’s medical center and was told that he was having a heart attack; however, instead of administering medication, the cruise physician monitored him until the ship docked. After reaching the shore, an ambulance transported the victim to a hospital where he was fitted with a pacemaker. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice against the cruise ship. Although a jury found in the plaintiff’s favor, the court granted the defendant’s motion for a directed verdict on the plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity. The defendant’s argued that the plaintiff’s expert failed to establish a basis for his analysis and determination of losses. The court agreed that the expert did not meet his evidentiary burden.

This case is a prime example of issues some Washington D.C. medical malpractice plaintiffs encounter when they do not retain a qualified expert. Medical expert testimony is critical in ensuring that the victim recovers the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Negligent Medical Provider in Washington D.C.?

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died because of medical negligence, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling all types of Washington D.C. medical malpractice cases as well as personal injury cases related to car and truck accidents, slip and falls, defective products, and more. We provide clients with respect, compassion, and zealous advocacy in their compensation claims. Contact our office today by calling 1-800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our legal team.



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