If you’ve seen any medical or lawyer dramas on TV or in the movies, you’ll recognize the scene in the courthouse where the expert is brought to the stand to give his professional opinion on the case. From psychologists to forensics specialists to medical doctors, anyone who is a professional in a given field can be possibly qualified by the court as an expert witness in a trial that relates to that field. But can anyone really be an expert witness? What are the requirements?
First of all, there are legal requirements. The Federal Rule of Evidence 702 states that expert witnesses must have “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” which will “help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” From this, one might think that really anyone could be an expert witness so long as he or she is someone who knows enough about a subject to help someone else understand the facts. In medical malpractice cases, some states require that the witness is an expert on the same subject as the defendant. Some states may also require that the expert has a license in the state that the case is being held in, or they may face charges for not having a license.
Second, there are more practical requirements. To be effective in this type of field, one must be a reliable witness, having no criminal investigations or had a license revoked in the past. An expert must have a flexible schedule, given that trials may last weeks or months. You have probably seen in the movies when the plaintiff tries to disqualify the witness based on the fact that they have been proven as an unreliable witness in the past. Maybe most importantly is the expert witness must be able to communicate well. If he or she is not effectively explaining the evidence, it may be detrimental to the outcome of the trial.
When you’re looking for a medical expert, there are obvious things to look for. Along with educational degrees and experience, look for communication skills and a healthy background as well. If you’re looking for an expert opinion or just to consult with a medical expert, APEXpert Witness is dedicated to finding you the right person to talk to.