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If you believe that you have suffered physical, mental or emotional harm or loss due to the negligence of a medical professional, you might be eligible to make a medical negligence (or malpractice) claim.
This compensation for the loss or damage you’ve suffered can help support you and your dependents while you recover.

However, these claims can be complicated and take some time to get to an outcome. But expert witnesses in medical negligence cases can be the difference in getting everything you’re entitled to. So it’s essential for you to understand the role of the expert witness in your medical negligence case.

Evidence you need in a medical negligence case

Medical malpractice cases are rarely simple cases, so they can require a lot of evidence to win. To make a successful claim against a medical professional, hospital or other healthcare practitioner, you need to prove that:

  • they owed you a duty of care
  • they breached their duty of care
  • you suffered injury, loss or damage directly as a result of their breach.

There are 2 types of evidence you need to provide:

  • liability evidence – which helps prove that a medical professional is legally responsible for the loss or damage
  • quantum evidence – which helps prove the extent of the loss or damage.

There’s a range of evidence you can provide to prove these 2 evidence types, including records, emails, eyewitness testimony, medical records and assessments.

But some of the most powerful evidence can come from an expert witness.

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness is an independent professional who has specialised knowledge, skills and expertise in field that’s relevant to your case – that’s usually beyond the understanding of the everyday person.

For a medical negligence case, these experts may be medical practitioners, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and more.

They are engaged to provide their professional opinion of what occurred in a case based on what they’ve learned through their research or experience. For example, in a medical negligence case, they might advise on medicine, healthcare and medical standards.

They analyse the facts and review relevant records. They may even attend the site where the incident occurred and do tests or take measurements to understand what happened. Then they offer their assessment based on their findings.

Medical negligence claims Gold Coast

Why you need an expert witness for a claim

Having the right advice and evidence could be the difference between winning and losing your case.

Courts and insurers take highly qualified expert witnesses seriously. Their opinion is considered highly trustworthy, as it’s based on evidence and facts, not emotion or assumption.

When an expert witness backs up your claim, this makes your case stronger. After they do their own assessment or investigation, the expert witness may prepare written reports of their findings, which can be used as evidence in court.

Finding the right expert witness for your claim

Not all expert witnesses are the same – you need the right one for your particular claim. Here are some things you should look for:

Relevant expertise: A medical practitioner may be an expert in their field, but not be in the specific matter you’re dealing with. So your expert witness must have similar qualifications and experience as the healthcare professional who you believe was negligent. 

Unbiased testimony: An expert witness must be objective and unbiased as they investigate and assess a case, and present their findings. They don’t base their conclusion on assumptions or personal beliefs, and must declare any conflicts of interest before taking the case. This makes them highly credible witnesses.

Experience as an expert witness: They must have experience in appearing in court as an expert witness, so they understand the process and know how to explain concepts for the jury. They should also have a history of successful cases.

Solid reputation: If an expert witness attends court regularly, a court may be familiar with them. You want an expert with a good reputation in the court and no cases against them. A judge must see them as independent and reliable to ensure their evidence is accepted.

Where to find an expert witness

This is where an experienced medical malpractice lawyer is worth their weight in gold. As these lawyers deal with these cases every day, they know a range of medical experts who may be suitable for your case. They also know the ones to avoid!

They will help decide which expert witness is right for you. To do this, you and your lawyer might:

  • conduct interviews with potential expert witnesses
  • review qualifications
  • read testimonies given experts in the past.

You must ensure that they can explain complicated ideas in simple language, so that jurors can easily understand what has occurred, including complex medical procedures, a doctor’s decision making process and what went wrong.


Getting expert evidence for your case

Finding the right expert witnesses in medical negligence cases will allow your lawyer to give them all the documents they need and a written summary about the case. After discussion, the expert will review all the facts of the case.

If they support your case, your lawyer will ask them to write a report. If the case ends up in court, they may also have to attend court and answer questions about the case.

The other party will probably have their own expert witness. A court might order an ‘expert conference’ where the various experts will try to agree on the issues. They might be required to write a joint report that sets out where they agree and don’t agree, and why.

How Main Lawyers can help

At Main Lawyers, our specialist medical negligence lawyers have years of experience in working with expert witnesses, as well as a long track record of successful cases.

We’ll work on your behalf to find the best possible expert witness, negotiate with the various parties, and get you the best possible outcome.

And our No Win, No Fee basis means you only pay our professional fees once we’ve got a successful outcome. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss your circumstances.