An expert witness in a wrongful death lawsuit was not properly vetted by the trial court before making key assertions about decedent’s cause of death, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled. That means the plaintiff, who alleged her teen daughter died due to medical malpractice, will get another chance to make her case at trial.
In Florida, there is no licensing or professional training one has to obtain in order to qualify as an expert witness. However, just having general knowledge isn’t enough either. Courts have established that individuals may be competent to provide expert witness testimony in a subject if they are qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education. Other considerations could include continuing education, fellowships and professional affiliations. The competency and qualifications of an expert witness are to be determined by the trial judge, and unless one can show there was a clear error in the judge’s discretion, that determination won’t be reversed.
The case of Hall v. Flannery involves the tragic death of a 17-year-old girl. When she was just 5-months-old, she was dropped and suffered a skull fracture. That fracture expanded over time and a cyst later formed. The fracture and cyst weren’t problematic for her until she turned 17. She suffered a blow to the head and, as a result, lost consciousness and later reported blurred vision and dizziness. CT and MRI scans revealed the full extent of the fracture and cyst. Continue reading