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Using experts to prove fault in medical malpractice cases

In a previous blog, we discussed the concept of medical standard of care, which is a doctor's duty to treat a patient with a similar level of care and skill as other similarly-situated doctors would in similar circumstances. In almost all medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff is claiming that the doctor or other health care professional did not follow the requisite standard of care, was therefore negligent, and that negligence caused the patient's injury. In order to prevail and ultimately obtain compensation, the plaintiff has the burden to prove these things by a preponderance of evidence, which essentially means that it is more likely than not.

That may sound simple, but determining the applicable standard of care, and that it was breached in the plaintiff's specific medical situation requires demonstrating what another similarly situated doctor would have done in that situation. 

The only way to offer this proof is to have another doctor or health care provider review the medical evidence and provide testimony as an expert witness regarding his or her findings. Only medical professionals have the education and experience necessary to make such a determination, and provide an opinion on the matter for a jury to consider.

In fact, there are very specific rules of evidence in Louisiana and federal courts that require experts to demonstrate that they have adequate training and experience to render an opinion on a medical malpractice matter before they will be allowed to testify.

Proving fault, as with all other aspects of medical malpractice law, is extremely complicated and technical. It is best to have the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney. 

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