Why are good Plastic Surgery Expert Witnesses so hard to find? Here is why…!
Whether you are an attorney, insurance adjuster, or patient, if you have ever tried to find a good plastic surgery expert witness, you will know it’s not so easy. You would think it would be relatively straight forward - simply find a qualified plastic surgery who is willing to testify in court? Easy, right? WRONG. Testifying in court is not as easy as it sounds. In order to adequately perform the role of a plastic surgery expert witness, the doctor must have 3 essential characteristics: Good qualifications, experience, and ethics.In order to illustrate this point, let us show you what happens when expert witnesses LACK these characteristics.
1. What happens when an expert witness does not have ethics?
In the role of being an plastic surgery expert witness, ethics are extremely important. In order to illustrate this point, let’s look at an example where the doctor’s ethics were found lacking. Here’s a description of a case - resulting in a mistrial - because of the doctor’s questionable ethics:“Here, Queens Supreme Court Justice Duane Hart, blasted Defense Expert Dr. Michael J. Katz for his part in perpetrating insurance fraud by committing perjury regarding an orthopedic exam he performed on a plaintiff. In this case, the plaintiff injured his ankle in a work-place accident. The original exam was performed and Dr. Katz testified that he had spent about 45 minutes during that exam. Now, the plaintiff’s paralegal who had been there disputed that, saying that the appointment lasted a total of about 10 minutes with only 3 or 4 minutes for the actual exam. When the time came for a second exam, plaintiff’s counsel, with his client’s permission, decided to secretly record the exam as a measure of protection against any attacks made by the doctor or defense counsel regarding the veracity. The doctor, in regular form, testified that on the second exam he had spent 10-20 minutes, when the video showed an exam of exactly one minute and 56 seconds.Nothing like having your witness impeached by his own exam. Worse still, being stuck with him. Judge Hart declared a mistrial and set the new trial for September, putting everyone on notice that they would be there, no excuses, they would be there. Defendant’s counsel, scrambling to get this expert excluded and requesting a new IME, unsuccessfully argued that it’s own expert was now adverse to their case.”Source: https://www.forensicmag.com/article/2007/01/qualifying-expert-witness-practical-voir-dire
2. What happens when an expert witness does not have appropriate qualifications?
According to federal law, a “if the witness is not an expert, opinion is admissible”. This means that, if the opposing attorney can prove that the doctor’s qualifications are not adequate, then it shows that he/she is not an expert. And if they can prove that, then the doctor cannot perform his/her role as an expert witness. Therefore, when choosing a plastic surgery expert witness, it’s important you choose one with the appropriate qualifications.
3. What happens when an expert witness does not have experience?
Experience here is important in two ways. Firstly, the doctor must of course have experience of his/her medical specialty. For example, a doctor fresh out of grad school with no experience of the procedure in question would not be a good witness. As per the first scenario, this could lead to the expert witnesses’ testimony being regarded as admissible. Secondly, it is very helpful if the doctor also has experience of testifying as an expert witness. The opposing attorney can pose some very difficult questions, so experience is very helpful in terms of staying calm and answering the questions objectively, without allowing the opposing attorney to push you around.
About Thomas Zaydon, M.D. - Expert Witness Plastic Surgeon