A common issue in personal injury cases is understanding the true nature and consequences of the injury question. Sometimes, it takes someone who knows the subject to explain it in a way that everybody can understand.
That someone is often a medical witness. Doctors and other healthcare professionals routinely provide testimony for both the plaintiff and defense in these cases.
Georgia law on technical witnesses
Georgia law is specific about what types of issues permit the use of technical witnesses, such as doctors. The basic requirement is that the witness’s testimony must help to understand the evidence or determine the veracity of a fact.
If that is the case, as it often is with complex medical issues, then the witness must act with care when providing testimony. Specifically, they would have to meet the following conditions:
- Facts or data form the basis of the testimony
- The testimony is the result of reliable methods and principles
- The witness applies the methods reliably
Medical witnesses do not need to come up with their own data or facts. They may give opinions on the testimony provided by other witnesses — provided they do so in accordance with the rules.
The role of a medical witness
Medical witnesses tend to provide some of the most important insights for civil plaintiffs. Depending on the facts in question, their input might help estimate the severity of an injury, explain medical terms in plain language or provide a disinterested opinion on diagnoses.
Being a witness is not something that all students cover in medical school. Although it does not require any specific familiarity with the legal system, not every healthcare professional is comfortable with the idea of providing an opinion in a personal injury case.