What you need to know when instructing an expert witness
22 October 2019
As a solicitor, you want to do everything that you can for your clients. In some cases – particularly medical disputes – this will involve bringing in an expert witness.
Expert medical witnesses are a great asset to have on your team, but there are several things to keep in mind when instructing a medical expert witness.
Why you might need an expert
It is the duty of experts to provide a medico-legal report and act as a medical expert for the court. In civil cases where a claimant is seeking damages, they have to prove their case from all angles. When it comes to injuries, this involves the use of medical experts and court reports, such as a court report for brain injury or a court report for neurorehabilitation.
Regardless of whether an expert is instructed by the claimant or defendant, it is their duty to act impartially, reviewing both the medical evidence and assessing the client (usually in person, in their own home) to assess the impact of the incident and the implication of this impact on their life.
What to look for in a medical expert witness
1. Expertise and experience
The main thing you want from an expert witness is expertise. You need to choose someone who has the relevant expertise and experience for the case. If the claimant suffered a brain injury, then you need to find an expert in neurorehabilitation, someone skilled in treating patients with similar injuries. You wouldn’t consult a paediatrician for an adult claimant. NRC Medical Experts are the UK’s only medico-legal expert witness chambers run by neurological rehabilitation professionals – so you can trust us to find the right person for the job.
2. Choose a highly trained expert
Medical experts should understand how the court system works and how they are expected to behave. If it appears that you have coached or influenced a witness, it calls the validity of their expertise and evidence into question. Choose an expert witness who understands the importance of their independence. NRC Medical’s expert witnesses are trained and mentored by partners Professor Mike Barnes and Dr Edmund Bonikowski. Prof Barnes and Dr Bonikowski have undertaken over 4000 assessments of clients in personal injury and clinical negligence cases. The Partners provide training, ongoing mentorship, guidance and support to the NRC’s expert witnesses to ensure solicitors, clients and the courts receive the best possible service.
Our clients trust that every NRC Medical Expert is impartial and open-minded.
3. Choose a medical expert with the ability to clearly explain the evidence
How well can the medical expert present and explain the evidence? Remember that they have to be able to explain things in a way that a judge and jury can understand. There’s a difference between someone knowing something themselves, and their ability to translate their knowledge to others. Choose a witness who can communicate complex information effectively.
4. Offer explanations
You should be sure to explain the most pertinent details to the witness. Make sure they understand the background of the case and the issues that have to be decided. Through the instruction process, NRC Medical experts will guide you through what the expert needs to know to be as effective as possible
Choose the leading experts
A brain injury can feel like the end of the world. Shape your client’s future with expert medico-legal testimony from the neurorehabilitation experts. Instruct a medical expert witness from NRC Medical Experts today