Medical malpractice cases that end up going to trial are oftentimes hard-fought, with each side presenting the evidence that they think is persuasive enough to sway the jury. While some of this evidence might be documentary in nature, a lot of it is going to be testimonial.
Here, you should attack the credibility of the plaintiff’s witnesses every chance you’ll get, but you’ll also want your witnesses to present strong and reliable testimony. This is especially true when it comes to expert witnesses.
But determining who is qualified to testify as an expert witness isn’t as easy as it may seem. Throughout the country, there are differing standards for the admissibility of expert testimony, which can make it difficult to decipher what you need to do in your case to ensure that your expert’s testimony is admissible. But we hope this post helps clear up some of the confusion.
Using the Frye standard in New York medical malpractice cases
New York utilizes the Frye standard. Here, an expert’s testimony and ultimate opinion will only be deemed admissible if it’s generally recognized as being reliable by the relevant scientific community.
This means the court is going to analyze the testimony in question to see if it relies upon accepted techniques to reach a conclusion. Therefore, in order to be deemed admissible, the practices utilized or relied upon by the expert must be beyond the experimental stage and instead should be accepted as valid by the scientific community.
It’s important to note that when assessing the admissibility of expert testimony, the court doesn’t analyze whether the ultimate opinion testified to is correct. That’s a job for the jury. But you might be able to buttress the reliability of your expert’s testimony by using published articles, treatises, books, and published papers to show that the expert’s opinion is based on well-established principles, and that similar conclusions have been reached.
Attacking the credibility of the plaintiff’s expert
Although you need to focus on presenting compelling evidence to support your medical malpractice defense, you also can’t overlook the value of attacking the plaintiff’s expert witnesses. You might have several opportunities to do this, including each of the following:
Challenging the expert witness’s understanding of the facts: If the expert witness’s opinion is based on misinformation or a lack of information, then you can show that their conclusions are faulty.
Drawing their methodology into question: The plaintiff’s expert’s testimony might not even pass the Frye test, but even if it does, you could still attack the methodologies used to reach their conclusion given the fats at hand. This, of course, will require you to understand the various methodologies in play and why some are more reliable than others.
Pointing out weaknesses in their conclusions: You also might have the opportunity to challenge the expert’s conclusions, especially if other courts have excluded such conclusions or if others in the medical field have failed to reach similar conclusions.
Build the defense you need to defend your interests
Although expert testimony is key in a medical malpractice case, it’s still only a part of your medical malpractice defense. With that in mind, you need to approach your medical malpractice defense in a holistic way, diligently looking for every opportunity to exploit the evidence to your advantage.
We know that can be stressful given the stakes involved, but preparation can alleviate many of your fears.