Law and medical fields can all boil down to ethics. The patient deserves the best care possible and the jury deserves to have the truth told about the case when it is heard in court. When a case arises where a medical expert is needed to relate challenging and technical information to a judge and a jury, ethical questions arise. “Truth” to one, may be a different “truth” to another. The expert witness field has many responsibilities and requirements and there are thin lines that can’t be crossed. Read on to find out what common ethical problems can arise when using an expert witness.
An expert witness relies on his or her opinion based on the facts of the case at hand and their knowledge and expertise in a given field. When so many truths are subjective, how can an expert witness in court give reliable and trustworthy information? When specific data is given, an expert witness can look at that data in a way in which will help decide the case, because that is their job. The opposing counsel’s medical witness could look at the same data, and analyze it differently. In addition, there are experts who may inadvertently add more weight to one school of thought as opposed to the other because it adds validity to their opinion. Ultimately, there is no rule on judging the basis of an opinion. A Daubert challenge can be raised in order to question how and what was used to form the expert’s opinion; however, those documents can still point to the school of thought that benefits the expert’s opinion.
Similar to scientific truth, it is also difficult to find science that is value free. The legal system and the scientific field also have wide discrepancies in how truth and values are dealt with. There can be scientific thought that a judge or attorney may accept without criticism, and scientific testimony may not be value free.
An attorney is able to hire a consultant whose findings may be not required to be disclosed to the opposing side. This fact gives an attorney an advantage when they are able to use documents and reports that they other side isn’t aware of. By contrast, an expert witness is required to divulge to opposing counsel all of his or her documents and research when forming their opinion.
There has been a need for greater transparency with consultant’s reviews; however, experts and attorneys are hesitant to set down standards and rules regarding disclosing documents and research. Having a standard to adhere to will give greater accountability to ensure there are no conflicts of interest, human rights are being protected, and that research is being done truthfully.
Forming an Opinion Too Soon
As a professional expert witness, one needs to put aside personal beliefs, whatever importance they would give to the case. There are times when an expert witness will form an opinion based on facts of a case, and then new information or evidence is given. It is important to be able to change points of view given new evidence if a change of opinion is required.
Medical experts and professional witnesses of any field have to deal with these ethics and how to most appropriately give information that will aid in winning a case. The expert witnesses at APEXpert Witness can guarantee that we will provide the most reliable and trustworthy witness services. Call us today to schedule an appointment and learn what we can do for you.