The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Florida Personal Injury Cases

In a Florida personal injury case, the jury consists of six average citizens. Because of this, in some cases, the issues raised in the case may be beyond the common understanding of the jurors. In these cases, courts allow parties to call on expert witnesses to testify as to their opinions.

While not every case requires an expert witness, many personal injury cases can be made stronger with the presentation of an expert witness. In some cases, such as Florida medical malpractice cases, expert witnesses are almost always required due to statutory requirements. Regardless of the type of claim, expert witnesses can be extremely important, as is the decision on which expert to select in any given case. A recent state appellate opinion discusses why it is crucial for personal injury victims to thoroughly vet and interview all potential expert witnesses.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was sitting in her vehicle at a stop sign when the defendant crashed into the back of her. The plaintiff immediately began to experience pain in her head and neck, and was went to the hospital later that day. The plaintiff tried various treatments for her pain, but none were effective. Eventually, the plaintiff saw a doctor who told her that she had reached maximum improvement and that her symptoms were likely to continue for the rest of her life.

The plaintiff sued the defendant. In support of her claim, she presented the testimony of the doctor. The defendant inquired into the doctor’s disciplinary history, and the doctor acknowledged that his medical license previously had been on probation, but noted that it was currently active. The doctor refused to answer any questions about why his license was on probation and the court denied the defendant’s request to compel the doctor to answer. The court also prevented the defendant from mentioning that the doctor’s license was previously on probationary status. The case proceeded to trial, where a jury rendered a $1.3 million verdict in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court erred when it precluded him from questioning the doctor about the reason why his medical license was on probation. The court partially agreed with the defendant, finding that the fact that the doctor’s license was previously on probationary status was relevant to his credibility and should have been presented to the jury. The court also concluded that the reasons for suspension, revocation, or probationary status may be relevant and should be disclosed to the opposing party. However, in this case, the reasons for the doctor’s medical license being on probation were inadmissible under the rules of evidence, so they were properly excluded. However, the court explained that the reasons for disciplinary action against an expert witness may not always be inadmissible.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Florida car accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we aggressively pursue compensation for accident victims from those responsible for their injuries. We represent injury victims across Florida, including in Miami, Homestead, Naples, and Miami Beach. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-448-8585.

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