Expert testimony is essential in many Maryland accident cases. A Maryland appeals court recently issued a decision in part on whether a court was wrong in excluding expert testimony, despite not having reviewed the patient’s relevant medical records. In that case, the plaintiff filed a malpractice claim against a doctor and his practice, claiming that she suffered a permanent loss of feeling in her tongue after the doctor allegedly severed lingual nerves in her jaw while he was taking out her wisdom teeth. She claims the doctor failed to take proper precautions when extracting her teeth, including failing to obtain a CT scan of the plaintiff’s mouth and nerves because she had impacted teeth, by failing to administer steroids immediately after the nerve injury, and by failing to immediately refer the patient to a nerve surgeon specialist.
The judge dismissed the case, in part because he excluded the expert testimony presented by the plaintiff. The plaintiff had two expert witnesses in the case: Dr. Kramer and Dr. Kotikian. The judge found that the opinion of Dr. Kramer was inadmissible in part because he had not reviewed the notes and records from the plaintiff’s treatment. The judge also found the opinion of Dr. Kotikian was inadmissible because he found that inferences of negligence can only be drawn when the alleged injury would not have occurred in the absence of medical negligence. The judge also found the plaintiff was contributorily negligent because she failed to attend follow-up appointments. The plaintiff appealed the decision.
When Is Expert Witness Testimony Necessary in Maryland?
Under Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted in a personal injury case if the court finds that the expert testimony will be helpful in understanding evidence or deciding a fact in the case. A court should determine: if the expert witness is qualified based on knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; if the expert testimony is appropriate on the issue, and; if there is sufficient factual support for the testimony.
The Court’s Decision
The appeals court reversed the judge’s decision. The appeals court found that there was no legal requirement to exclude the expert’s opinion because the records of the treating physicians were not reviewed. The appeals court explained that the expert’s failure to consider certain information should be considered when evaluating the opinion of the expert—but it does not make the expert’s testimony inadmissible. Concerning the testimony of Kr. Kotikian, the appeals court also found it was wrongfully excluded because, in a medical malpractice case, expert testimony is needed to prove negligence through inference. Finally, the appeals court found that failing to attend follow-up visits did not necessarily mean that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. Therefore, the appeals court reversed the decision of the judge.
Have You Been Injured?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to Maryland medical error, or in another type of accident, consult with an experienced Maryland accident attorney as soon as possible. At Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we take pride in advocating for the rights of victims against negligent health care providers, careless drivers, and other defendants and their insurers. To have an attorney evaluate your claim and determine the best course of action, call 1-800-654-1949 or contact them online to set up a free consultation.