Who Is an Expert? A Quick Primer on an Evasive Concept (Medicolegal Issues)

Who Is an Expert? A Quick Primer on an Evasive Concept (Medicolegal Issues)

To many physicians, the term expert witness not only raises the specter of a “hired gun” willing to testify against his colleagues for financial gain, but often leads to exasperation when learning that the expert is not even in the same field of medicine as the person he is testifying against. Similarly, many physicians express reluctance to act as an expert in legal proceedings because they do not consider themselves to be an expert in their field. The effort here is to clarify what the term expert means in legal proceedings and how courts determine whether that label is merited. Each jurisdiction has procedural rules that outline what is generally required to be considered as an expert witness (1). Two circumstances must exist before an individual can testify as an expert witness in a legal proceeding. First, the court must find that there is an issue before it in which expert testimony is needed to guide the jury. Otherwise, the opinion of the expert is not relevant. Second, the court must find that the individual tendered as an expert has sufficient qualifications.

Who Is an Expert? A Quick Primer on an Evasive Concept (Medicolegal Issues)



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