Who Can Be an Expert Witness in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases?
Until recently, Florida medical malpractice law defined an expert witness as a healthcare provider who practices in the same or similar specialty as the defendant. For example, if a patient suffered a spinal injury at a hospital, that patient could use a surgeon in another field, like an orthopedic surgeon, who performed the same procedures on his patients as an expert witness.
Can Judges Decide Whether My Expert is the Right One?
Yes, trial judges are allowed to decide whether an expert’s testimony is fit for trial. Under the old rules judges were only allowed to decide if an expert’s methods were “generally accepted” in a given field. Now judges can decide whether an expert’s testimony is factually accurate, follows appropriate methods, and whether the expert correctly applies that to the issue at trial.
Is it Harder to File a Malpractice Suit Today?
Unfortunately, yes. A recent change now means that only healthcare providers practicing in the same specialty can testify against a defendant. Now that same injured patient can’t sue for medical malpractice unless that patient finds another neurosurgeon to serve as an expert witness.
You need doctors who are both qualified and willing to testify in court against members of their own community. Most doctors don’t want to testify against their colleagues – or fear backlash from insurance providers and hospitals – and without that testimony an injured patient can’t even file a lawsuit. With these new restrictions, getting expert testimony is more difficult than ever.
Supporters of this law say that this burden will encourage the early resolution of claims. Medical malpractice attorneys know that experts are required by injured patients and that the law favors hospitals and insurance providers. It is biased against injured patients who have suffered a catastrophic injury and want justice.
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Shapiro Law Group – Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving the Tampa Bay Area