Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Medical Expert Definition:

A witness tendered to offer opinion evidence within the confines of his or her area of medical expertise.

Related Terms: Expert Witness

In Brown, Justice Goolsby adopted these words:

"To be competent as a medical expert, a witness must have acquired by reason of study or experience or both such knowledge and skill in the medical profession as to be better qualified than the fact finder to form an opinion on the particular subject of his testimony.

"A witness in a workers' compensation proceeding will be permitted to express his opinion on a medical question when it appears that he is qualified so to do by reason of his training, experience, and practice. A physician is not incompetent to testify as an expert witness simply because he is not a specialist in the particular branch of medicine involved in the case. The fact that the witness is not a specialist in the particular branch involved affects only the weight of the witness's testimony and affords no basis for completely rejecting it."

In Botehlo, Justice Bell wrote:

"To be competent as an expert, a witness must have acquired by reason of study or experience or both such knowledge and skill in a business, profession, or science that he is better qualified than the jury to form an opinion on the particular subject of testimony.

"The test is a relative one, depending on the particular witness's reference to the subject; an expert is not limited to any class of persons acting professionally.

(It is) not necessary for witness with medical training and experience to be regularly licensed to practice medicine to qualify as expert.

The Court then went on to give these examples of medical experts:

" (A) physician (is) not incompetent to testify as an expert merely because he is not a specialist in the particular branch of his profession involved.   (A) chiropractor (is) competent to testify as medical expert to extent of his knowledge and experience. (A) nurse (is) competent to testify in medical malpractice action against physician as to standard of care in keeping sterile a needle used to draw blood. (An) orthopaedist (is) competent to testify against podiatrist where orthopaedic and podiatric methods of treatment are same and witness has knowledge of procedure used by podiatrist)."

REFERENCES:

  • Botehlo v Bycura, 320 S.E.2d 59 (1984, South Carolina Court of Appeals)
  • Brown v La France Industries, 333 SE 2d 348 (1985)

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