Few would dispute the fact that medicine is among the most complex professions one can enter into. We trust and respect doctors not just for the important work that they do, but also for the years of training and study that it took to learn their craft.
But there are times when doctors make serious errors that lead to harm or even death. Because the average person has only a rudimentary understanding of the field of medicine, we don’t always know if the negative outcome was the result of error. And if so, whether that error was one that any physician might make. Therefore, in cases of alleged medical malpractice, who better to judge a doctor’s actions than another medical professional in that specialty?
In an article that we published on our website, we discussed a ruling by a New Jersey appellate court overturning a jury verdict in a medical malpractice case. The case involved a teenager who was treated for assault wounds but later developed an infection and suffered a related heart attack. He was paralyzed and died about two years later from complications.
The jury found that the physicians treating the teen had not been negligent. However, the trial court had limited the use of medical experts. The plaintiffs were allowed to submit testimony from just one medical expert to show that the defendants deviated from the standard of care, and the defendants were also limited to one expert to testify on their behalf.
When plaintiffs appealed the jury’s decision, the appellate court held that the use of medical experts should not have been limited as it was. Imposing the limit exceeded the trial court’s authority under state laws and court rules. Because the trial court limited the use of medical experts that were critical to the plaintiff’s case, the appellate court reversed the ruling.
It may be impossible to overstate the importance of expert medical testimony in a malpractice case. At the same time, it is crucial to hire an attorney who understands which questions to ask and which experts to consult in order to prove medical negligence.
If you’d like to learn more about the case we referenced in today’s post, please read the article entitled “Trial court erred in limiting the experts in medical malpractice case” on our website.