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Medical experts and their testimony

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Personal Injury Defense

Many high-value personal injury lawsuits center around complex disputes. Arguments range considerably and, therefore, so does the relative importance of medical witness testimony.

That said, one common issue is that the parties disagree about the value of the injured party’s loss. In these situations, expert testimony could turn out to be one of the critical aspects of the case.

What makes someone a medical expert?

New York courts set a relatively high bar for expertise. The person must at least have one of the following credentials related to a specific opinion or piece of information:

  • Knowledge
  • Skill
  • Experience
  • Training
  • Education

After someone qualifies as an expert, however, there is also the issue of exactly how the person may provide testimony. The extent to which a party understands these rules typically corresponds with the support that the party’s expert is able to provide.

What expert testimony could the court permit?

The court typically admits medical testimony that serves at least one of two key functions. The first is to dispel probable misconceptions about a point of fact. The second is to enable a finder of fact to understand information, especially in the service of forming an accurate judgment.

As long as the testimony serves one of these purposes, there is a relatively broad range of statements that an expert could make. In fact, under certain conditions, experts do not even need total certainty to make a conclusion. Similarly, the expert could also conditionally provide opinions and inferences.

There are also specific guidelines about interpreting tests, referring to out-of-court material and the forms of questions for experts. As one might expect from this set of interdependent rules about testimony, finding the optimal role of medical witnesses in a personal injury defense case often requires strategic planning.