How Are Expert Witnesses Used?

Doctor consultation with the patient by using digital tablet

Many types of litigation require the use of expert witnesses. Experts can offer consultation on matters requiring scientific expertise, they can help educate the jury on complex issues, and they can be a vital resource in securing a favorable result for your client. Many cases, such as medical malpractice matters, require the use of expert witnesses in order to bring a claim at all.

At Orbit Health, our forensic psychiatry practice brings qualified, professional psychiatric research and care experts directly to your legal office or courtroom. Orbit health can connect you with specialists in any area of forensic psychiatry, whether you need to diagnose a plaintiff’s condition, evaluate a defendant’s fitness to stand trial, or evaluate whether a physician’s conduct amounted to malpractice.

Expert Reports and Testimony

The meat of an expert’s work is often centered around their expert report and testimony. Experts can be retained as witnesses for matters that touch on an area of scientific or other specialized expertise. Expert witnesses can generate reports in which they opine on a matter of science or specialized knowledge, either to establish general principles or to draw a conclusion about something specific to the case at bar. At trial, expert testimony can be used to educate the jury on a matter of scientific import or draw connections and conclusions between data in the case and a matter in dispute.

For example, forensic psychiatric expert witnesses may be used to:

  • Establish a party’s mental fitness to have made certain legal decisions or to stand trial now
  • Diagnose a witness or party’s mental condition
  • Provide evidence on the state of mind of a defendant, witness, or another party
  • Evaluate whether a particular treatment is a matter of common medical practice (for example, in an insurance coverage dispute)
  • Review a physician’s conduct to determine what should have happened in a given diagnostic or treatment session and whether the physician deviated from the appropriate standards of medical care
  • Educate the jury on a complex psychological condition, including its causes, symptoms, and effects
  • Evaluate a plaintiff or other party and provide a diagnosis on any mental health conditions
  • Suggest the type of care a plaintiff will require for future treatment of a traumatic condition

Case Preparation and Consultation

In addition to providing testimony at trial, expert witnesses can be an invaluable resource when preparing a case and even in evaluating whether there is any merit or value to a case in the first place. A medical expert can, for example, review the circumstances of alleged malpractice and help your firm understand whether any malpractice might have actually taken place. If there was a poor result for the patient but the treating physician did everything by the book, then no malpractice case will lie.

Expert witnesses can also help with the discovery process. A medical expert can not only evaluate your client for damages; they can also help you identify what types of evidence to look for in order to strengthen your position. An expert can help you understand what type of data is relevant, the parties from whom that data may be collected, and the most efficient and effective way to request that data. Of course, the expert can also be used to review and evaluate medical records and other data so that you know what evidence provides support to your client and which contrary evidence needs to be addressed and explained.

If you are a litigant in need of expert mental health testimony, or a healthcare provider who would benefit from a variety of licensed, qualified, professional psychiatric care specialists, reach out to Orbit Health to discuss your options for telepsychiatry today.

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