Ophthalmologist expert witness: Things that you must know

An ophthalmology expert witness is a licensed eye surgeon having knowledge and experience to testify in eye malpractice lawsuits. Vision loss is one of the serious and devastating consequences of faulty surgery. Sometimes, the negligence can also happen before or after surgery and sometimes it might be the fault of other medical staff and not the surgeon. Or at times, the negligence can be on part of the patients for failing to take care of their health even after getting advice from the doctor. To determine who is at fault and whether there can be a malpractice case, you’ll need an attorney. Complications like eye infections, cataracts, and glaucoma-related injuries, temporary and permanent vision loss can take place and if you believe that you’ve been victimized, then you should immediately get in touch with an attorney. Expert witnesses may be called upon by the attorneys to seek medico-legal guidance. These witnesses can be a huge asset and can have a huge impact on the outcome of the case. In this context, you’ll know why these experts should be specialists and the importance of seeking medico-legal reports from an expert. Before discussing the role of expert witnesses, it’s important to know why there has been a surge in medical malpractice claims.

Informed Consent: One of the biggest reasons for malpractice:

Medical malpractice cases have become highly complicated because of multiple factors encroaching on the doctor-patient relationship. A good relationship takes place when the doctor and the patient share a good line of communication. Nowadays, patients are not well-informed about the diseases or the risks. Also, the developing technologies in the medical field have created unrealistic expectations. Hence, it is imperative for the doctors to properly explain the pros and cons of eye surgery and how the patient can benefit from the same. Lastly, the patient should also give written and verbal consent before allowing medical intervention. Informed consent has two angles- ethical and legal.

  • Ethical angle

Patients have the right to seek information about treatment or surgery to know what should or should not happen to their bodies. Nobody has the right to touch the patient or coerce them to get treatments without their consent. If the patient is forced to act in a particular way, then there will be a case of malpractice.

  • Legal Angle

Obtaining verbal and written consent is a legally correct procedure followed before providing surgery or treatment. If the patient gives their consent despite knowing the risks and complications, there cannot be a case of malpractice.

If the doctor fails to evaluate the previous medical history of the patient or fails to take consent from the patient, there’ll be a charge of medical negligence against the surgeon. However, the plaintiff should reach out to a legal advisor to settle his/her claim. It’s easier to make claims than to get it.

What is the Requirement of an Expert Ophthalmologist Witness? -  bakers-legal-pages

Types of compensation that you can claim:

In eye surgery malpractice cases, you can make claims for both economic and non-economic damages. Mainly, expert eyewitnesses are called upon to calculate the damages caused due to surgical negligence. There are two types of compensation that you can claim:

  • Economic damages– These are the monetary damages and the examples include- loss of income, past or future medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation.
  • Non-economic damages– Damages that cannot be quantified is termed as non-economic damages and it mainly includes- pain and sufferings, emotional trauma, etc. These damages are less concrete and are subjectively evaluated by the jury.

For claiming these damages, you need to seek the help of an expert witness who can calculate the gravity of the injuries and the losses that you’ve sustained. Choosing the right expert plays a critical role in this regard. The jury will seek an explanation for making such calculations and the experts have to breakdown all the costs and explain why they’ve arrived at that amount. Remember that the case can be in your favor with the right expert witness.

In the later stage of this article, the factors to be considered for choosing an expert witness have been discussed.

Why eye surgery experts should be a specialist?

When choosing an expert witness, it is important to find not only an experienced but also someone who is a specialist in this field. For instance, if you have injuries or vision loss due to cataract surgery, then you will need an expert witness who is specialized in cataract surgeries and their malpractices. They need to be an expert in matters in which they are testifying because the opinions stated by the expert witness needs to be clinically true and scientifically proven. Every piece of information about the expert witness will be a part of the defendant’s question list. This includes the experience of the expert witness, expertise related to the case, and others. The outcome is going to be worst if the expert witness on your side isn’t a specialized one!

Also, an interesting point to note here is that these experts should never be considered as your advocate. The role of attorneys and these experts are not one and the same. Rather, an eye expert witness will be called upon by the attorney to get their opinions on the topic on which your case is based on. Before taking the expert for your case, it’s important to make them review the case. This will give an idea if their opinions are based on scientific explanations. In some cases, you may find that the expert’s opinion is in tune with your topic but they might not be the right choice to testify on the subject matter.

Importance of medico-legal reports:

The medico-Legal report is the expert witness report that is prepared by another health professional for court proceedings. It is considered an essential piece of evidence of an allied ophthalmologist expert witness. An important thing to understand is that these expert witnesses should also have knowledge of the law and procedure. This is important to testify a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medico-legal reports have to be prepared in accordance with certain guidelines and therefore the expert should have proper experience and knowledge in the subject matter in which they are testifying. Also, it needs to be ensured that the expertise offered is founded in clinical experience as it’s a big factor in determining the quality of the witness. The breadth of knowledge should be vast as it will make them authoritative and able to provide both written and oral evidence. In civil claims, the claimant has to prove that he/she has sustained injuries because of the negligence of the health care provider. In this context, strong evidence needs to be produced. A neutral report plays a crucial role because all the facts and opinions presented by the experts will be purely based on scientific explanation and clinical experience. While testifying or deposition, the expert needs to state logical grounds based on which they have reached that particular finding. Therefore, the eye expert witnesses need to prove that the claims made by the plaintiff are true. These are some of the benefits of getting medico-legal reports from eye expert witnesses.

Filing lawsuits without the help of medico-legal guidance is one of the biggest blunders to make! When you proceed to a hearing without seeking a medico-legal report, it can result in an unsuccessful claim. Hence, finding an expert who is neutral is as important as finding an expert with clinical experience.

Role of experts at court proceedings:

Ophthalmology witnesses play a multifaceted role in surgical cases. They attend the court proceedings and have good experience in presenting their facts and are confident in their ability to give clear oral evidence with a good voice projection. Speaking confidently in the court is very important because the tone of speaking can persuade the jury to believe that the facts given by the expert are true and proven.

In a nutshell, the outcome of your case will depend on the quality of the expert witness that you’ve selected. In this context, one needs to consider essential things before choosing an expert witness.

What problems can ophthalmologists treat?

Essential factors t to consider before hiring an expert witness:

It might take some time to get hands-on with the best expert ophthalmology witness. Also, the expert witness will take some time to review the case and prepare the reports. They’ll work closely with the attorney and peruse all the documents to understand all the aspects of the case. Additional time and preparations will be needed in case deposition is needed.

Here is a list of factors that you should you must consider before choosing an expert witness:

Taking referrals;

While the Google search engine would be the best place to find expert witnesses, the results may not always be satisfying. Hence, it’s better to start by seeking help from your attorney. If you are searching, then you can take references from friends or family. Usually, the attorneys have a good network with expert witnesses or references. You can work with your attorney during the selection process. You’ll need someone who can instantly respond to your queries with facts and explanations. This is one of the crucial steps. You are almost on the winning side if you’ve got a good attorney and an expert witness by your side! Besides this, they need to give their explanations to the panel presiding over the case. An experienced witness is one who can confidently answer respond to the questions coming from not only the defendant’s attorney but also the jury panel. A reliable expert eye witness is one who’ll surrender the things that they don’t have knowledge about. It’s important to be very specific on the topics they know because if they’re unable to defend in the court of law, the outcome will be highly unfavorable.

Convincing skills of the expert:

The next important thing to look out for is how convincing the facts are! In other words, the expert not only has to provide written case reviews but also have to provide oral evidence in the court. In that case, the degrees, qualifications, and experience won’t count if the expert witness is unable to simplify the complex matter of the case. Remember that medical negligence cases involve complex elements that require exaggeration in simple language. Neither the jury nor the attorney representing the plaintiff has an understanding of these medical complexities. It is only an expert witness who can simplify the matter. The main point here is to explain the findings in simple language so that the jury can understand all the complex elements. Even if the juror is unable to understand, the expert witness should have the potential to explain that as well.

Ability to negate claims:

As you know that courtroom trials will have a lot of questions and counter-questions, an eye expert witness should be well-versed with these counter questions. The attorneys try several tricky methods to confuse the plaintiff or the ones representing him/her. Look for an expert having the ability to negate claims and questions put forward by the opponents.

To sum up, if you’ve been a victim of malpractice, then you should immediately get in touch with an attorney. Delaying is never a good option because there’s a certain tenure within which you need to make your claims. You’ll lose the right to compensation if you miss this deadline. Usually, you get two years of statute of limitations for malpractice claims. The sooner you get professional help, the better will be your chances of winning the case. Remember that the expert witness will need time to go through your case. Things will run smoothly when you get sufficient time to prepare all the necessary documents for your case. If the case is critical, you’ll need to have strong proof and evidence to validate your claims. Seek professional help and get your deserving compensation!