Medicine is one of the most complex and varied sectors. With hundreds of specialisms and professions wrapped up into healthcare, it is unsurprising that solicitors will so often call upon the assistance of a medical expert witness. Indeed, the instruction of a medical expert witness in addition to their testimony in court, can be a crucial and deciding factor in the achievement of justice. As providers of the most targeted medical expert witnesses for the UK, each of our experts has, by definition, dedicated their training and professional lives to their discipline. The medical expert witnesses therefore have the profound and specialised knowledge that a solicitor alone cannot attribute to their case. There are an unlimited number of cases for which a solicitor may require a medical expert witness. Here we highlight some of the cases which most frequently necessitate a medical expert witness.
Criminal defence cases can be some of the most sensitive. Without the instruction of a medical expert witness, the solicitor risks the miscarriage of justice since it is unlikely that the evidence has been scoured with the precision and knowledge that a medical expert witness provides. Many of the medical expert witnesses will be called upon to assess the nature of the injuries sustained as well as the circumstances around and leading up to the criminal activity to evaluate to what extent the offending individual was responsible for injury, or indeed, whether injury was the intention.
A great number of medical expert witnesses instructed by solicitors in cases of criminal defence will be a psychology expert witness or psychiatry expert witness. There are some important distinctions between the two. In short, a psychology expert witness can assess the defendant’s motivations behind their criminal activity, whilst the psychiatry expert witness may assess an often vulnerable individual and decipher whether an undiagnosed or pre-existing mental health illness or disorder has influence their criminal activity.
With the rise in patients needed to be seen by medical professionals, the advancements in complex medical procedures, and the increased pressures put upon staff, we have consequently seen a rise in the number of medical negligence cases. ‘Medical negligence’ is a term which incorporates a number of ‘errors’ that may be made by a medical professional. These include missed diagnosis or misdiagnoses, adverse responses to medication, surgical errors, negligence in informing the patient, parents, or carers of the patient of the course of treatment, hospital neglect, and birth injuries. The particular circumstances of an incident will determine which medical expert witness needs to do further assessments into the case.
Family law will often see a medical expert witness appointed in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of any children or vulnerable adults involved. For example, in a case of suspected child abuse, a paediatric expert witness or a child psychologist will be able to gather further evidence with great sensitivity to either confirm or challenge the allegations. In cases of divorce, a psychologist expert witness may be appointed by a solicitor to help determine whether the parents are capable, or indeed which parent would be better fit for majority custody. In any family law case, the appointment of a medical expert witness may be a significant and deciding factor when it comes to court.
Undoubtedly, the involvement of a medical expert witness can be crucial in uncovering complex and potentially life-changing evidence. As an independent party, their assessments are objective and once written into a comprehensive report, the conclusions of the medical expert witness may be used confidently and directly by the solicitor in court. If you require a medical expert witness for your case, get in touch with one of our dedicated case managers who will work with you to ensure that the most-suited medical expert witness is appointed to your case.