Recently the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an opinion stemming from a medical malpractice lawsuit against a plastic surgeon. The court addressed two common issues concerning expert witnesses and abuse of discretion that frequently occur in Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits.
According to the court’s opinion, the doctor performed a cosmetic procedure, a blepharoplasty, designed to remove puffiness and fat from the eyelids. Following the surgery, the plaintiff discovered that she was functionally blind in one eye after suffering permanent injury to her levator muscle. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, alleging that he negligently performed the surgery. At trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her compensatory damages. The defendant appealed the ruling, arguing, among other issues, that the plaintiff should not have been permitted to cross-examine his medical expert on his disciplinary history.
In Maryland, plaintiffs must have a medical expert witness to support their medical malpractice lawsuit. Moreover, plaintiffs are entitled to cross-examine a defense’s expert witness. Generally, under Maryland law, an expert witness must have, clinical experience, previous consultations related to clinical practice, and taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty within five years of the negligent action. After a medical expert agrees to testify, they must obtain a Certificate of Merit. During testimony, a plaintiff is permitted to cross-examine an expert witness. Maryland Rule 5-702, mirrors the Frye standard, which allows expert testimony if it will enable the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine an issue. Additionally, if a party objects to testimony, the court will weigh the testimony’s probative value versus its prejudicial effect to determine whether admitting the testimony is appropriate.
In the case above, before trial, the defendant unsuccessfully attempted to exclude certain documents from the Virginia Board of Medicine. These documents related to instances where the expert witness violated rules and regulations connected to his medical practice. During the trial, the expert witness opined that the defendant did not stray from the generally accepted standard of care. The plaintiff subsequently cross-examined the witness on his disciplinary past. The court found that the lower court did not err when they allowed this testimony because it goes to whether the expert could appropriately comment on appropriate standards.
Expert witnesses play a crucial role in Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits. Thus, it is critical to retain an experienced injury attorney who maintains relationships with qualified and reputable expert witnesses.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of the Negligence of a Maryland Doctor or Hospital?
Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits are complex and require extensive knowledge of the relevant evidentiary and procedural rules. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have a deep and comprehensive understanding of how to successfully bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider. The attorneys at our law firm can assist injury victims during these challenging lawsuits and help get them the compensation they deserve. Compensation may include payments for past medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other related damages. Contact the law firm at 800-654-1949 to schedule your free initial consultation.