Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor
In Reply: Experts, the only
witnesses who are permitted to offer opinion evidence, are vital in
medical malpractice cases. Without experts, the jury is unlikely to
understand the issues; they need to be educated by the experts to
arrive at an informed verdict. Too often, however, the medical issues
strain the jury's ability to understand, so they may defer to the most
persuasive expert. The jury system is thus vulnerable to abuse by
lawyers who use the highly effective, perennial expert witness. Such
individuals may testify in hundreds of cases, typically favor 1 side,
and derive substantial income from their "forensic" activities.
They may have more experience in depositions and in the courtroom than
the lawyers questioning them, and may display consummate skill in
anticipating and deflecting troublesome questions. They state their
opinions with indignant conviction and support them with arguments
polished by repeated use.
Tremblay GF. Damages and the Expert Witness—Reply. JAMA. 1999;281(24):2285–2286. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-24-jbk0623
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