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New York Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Attempt to Act as His Own Expert in a Medical Malpractice Case

It is well-established under New York law that parties seeking compensation for medical malpractice must submit expert testimony to support their claims. While a person does not necessarily have to practice in the same specialty as the defendant to act as an expert, they must nonetheless be qualified, and if they are not, they may be precluded from testifying. In a recent New York medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff attempted to act as his own expert, the court examined expert qualifications. If you were harmed by improper treatment of a medical condition, it is in your best interest to contact a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer regarding what evidence you need to produce to recover compensation.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit alleging medical malpractice claims against his former psychiatrist. The court set forth a discovery plan and scheduling order that established deadlines for the service of expert disclosures. The plaintiff sought to revise the order to allow him to serve an additional expert disclosure, which he wrote himself. The defendant opposed the plaintiff’s request. The court ultimately denied the plaintiff’s request, finding that he was not qualified to opine as an expert and could not use his own opinions to support his medical malpractice claims.

Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court explained that Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert testimony in federal cases. In part, Rule 702 dictates that experts must be qualified via education, training, skill, or experience. Additionally, they may only testify if their specialized knowledge will assist the fact-finder in understanding an issue of fact, their testimony is based on adequate facts or data, and they have employed reliable methods and principles.

The court noted that Rule 702 imposed a liberal standard of admissibility of expert opinions. While it allowed for a permissive approach, however, it did not remove the screening function from the purview of trial court judges. Further, the party that seeks to rely on expert testimony bears the burden of proving that all of the requirements have been met, by a preponderance of the evidence. In part, this requires the proponent of an expert opinion to prove the expert is qualified.

In the subject case, the plaintiff admitted that he was not a doctor and did not possess any training or experience in the field of psychiatry. As such, the court found that he lacked the qualifications to testify as an expert, and denied his request to amend the scheduling order.

Speak to an Experienced Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When doctors cause their patients harm rather than alleviating their health issues, they may be liable for medical malpractice. If you suffered injuries because of negligent medical care, you might be owed damages, and you should speak to an attorney. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome.  You can reach us through our online form or by calling 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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