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INsight | Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases

April 5, 2019

Dr. Nich King sits down at the Sweeney Studios to talk to INsight about the role of expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases.


Host: Welcome back. We’re here at the Sweeney Studios. I’m with Dr. Nich King. He’s a board-certified neurologist, who practices medicine and also law. He helps with medical malpractice cases at the Sweeney Law Firm. Today we want to talk about the role of expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases because they certainly play an essential role. So tell me what, what their role is in these cases.

Dr. King: So in the State of Indiana, you need to have an expert witness in order to take a case forward as a plaintiff. We have a, we do have a panel process that we, we participate in before a case goes to court, and if the plaintiff wins that panel, then those doctors that sat on the panel can actually serve as expert witnesses. But sometimes those panel members either say that there’s no malpractice or they’re not that confident that there is, and we still want to move forward with a case in court, then we have to have an expert witness on our behalf, on our client’s behalf, saying that there was malpractice in order to even move a case forward in the court system. So it’s extremely important to have expert witnesses.

Host:  So do attorneys hire these expert witnesses to come and speak or testify for clients?

Dr. King: Right, so both sides typically do, the plaintiffs and the defense. We definitely have a network of expert witnesses that we have, at Sweeney Law Firm, that we’ve used before. We’re constantly getting new expert witnesses. We try out certain expert witnesses. We interview them to see, you know, what they say about our cases. We will often actually hire an expert witness to review a case for us and, if we don’t like what they’ve said, if we, if we don’t think that they’re the best expert witness, we’ll actually go out and find another expert witness to serve on our client’s behalf.

Host: I would think that the fact that you’re a practicing physician, you’re a practicing neurologist, really helps you in being able to find the most qualified medical experts for these cases.

Dr. King: Right, so as I said, often, if we, if we go and interview an expert witness and have them look at our case and they give us their take on the case and they say, “This is what I think was malpractice,” and if it’s something that we don’t really feel like fits the case very well, especially me, in my practice, having practiced for 15 years in medicine, if I don’t think that that’s going to, that angle that they’re taking is something that’s really going to help the case, then we will definitely pick a different expert witness, and I feel like knowing the law, and having practiced medicine for 15 years, definitely helps me to kind of pick the best expert witnesses for our clients.

Host: Makes sense. And, also, I would think that medical background, then, also comes into play, when it comes time to question the defendant’s medical expert.

Dr. King: Yeah, so that’s –

Host: They don’t like to see you stand up, do they?

Dr. King: That’s the most fun I have. The defense witnesses don’t always know that I’m a physician, but sometimes they do. And when they do, that’s when I have a lot of fun because, you know, I can, I can see, sometimes if a defense expert knows that there’s malpractice, but they know how to word something to make it sound like it’s not malpractice, they think they can kind of skirt the issue and maybe work around the question a little bit, kind of like a politician. But they, I can see through that because I know the medicine.

Host: Yes.

Dr. King: And so if they say something that I can tell they’re not really answering the question I’m asking or if they’re giving me some fluff, then I can redirect my questions and I can really make them answer the questions point blank in order to, to call them out, essentially.

Host: Well, I’m just saying that if I had a medical malpractice case, I would want the medical, the, the team with the medical expert on my team. That just makes sense to me. So if you feel like you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, it makes sense to call Sweeney Law Firm. Let them have a consultation with you and work through your case and see if that is the case. They’d love to talk to you. All you have to do is give them a call or check them out online, sweeneylawfirm.com. We’ll be right back.

Download the full transcript here.