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The Use of Medical Experts in Personal Injury Cases

Posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Any time someone gets seriously injured as a direct result of someone else’s misconduct, the injured person will likely have grounds to file suit against everyone responsible for harming them and demand civil compensation for the harm they have sustained. However, the court will not just take a person’s word for it that their injuries are as bad as they claim, just like they would not believe any assertion made about the accident that led to those injuries without evidence to back them up.

The use of medical experts in personal injury cases is common and usually a central component of a case. Here is a brief overview of how medical experts tend to factor into litigation of this nature, each of which a seasoned personal injury lawyer can go into more detail about as needed.

Who Counts as a Medical Expert During Personal Injury Litigation?

Broadly speaking, a medical expert is someone who has years of education, training, and on-the-job experience providing professional medical care to patients. A medical expert being used in a personal injury case should be someone with experience treating the specific type of injury the person has sustained—for instance, a neurologist for neurological injuries. State law sets requirements for what state a medical expert has actually practiced medicine in prior to testifying, as well as how recently they were actively practicing.

What Information Will Medical Experts Provide?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main role that medical experts play in personal injury cases is explaining to court officials and jury members—or, outside of court, insurance adjusters—exactly how the plaintiff was injured, how long the healing process will likely take, and what physical and psychological effects the injury is likely to have. They can also testify to the fact that an injury stemmed directly from a specific accident and was not a pre-existing condition.

Different types of medical experts may be needed to comment on different aspects of the injury. For example, a general practitioner may be needed to establish the physical severity of an injury, but a mental health provider may be able to explain the psychological impact of that injury more effectively.

Are There Any Downsides to The Use of Medical Experts in Personal Injury Cases?

Medical experts who participate in personal injury litigation are compensated for their time and testimony, but bringing a medical expert into a personal injury case does not necessarily guarantee the expert will testify in the injured person’s favor. Additionally, medical experts are understandably more used to providing treatment than to interacting with the civil court system, and they may not instinctively phrase their statements in a way that informs court and jury members effectively.

For these reasons and many others, support from an experienced lawyer can be vital to making the best use of medical experts in personal injury cases. Call today to learn more.