How Do I Become an Orthopedic Expert Witness?

Terrie Brockmann

The field of orthopedics is a vast field, and many occupations within this field qualify a person to become an orthopedic expert witness. Usually experts testify in malpractice suits. Surgeons, nurses, and therapists can qualify to be an orthopedic expert witness. Sometimes lawyers need non-medical staff to testify; therefore, if you are an administrator, accountant, or auditor, you may qualify to testify.

Typically, the credentials of an expert witness must be established before the expert can render an opinion.
Typically, the credentials of an expert witness must be established before the expert can render an opinion.

Not all experts testify, though some consult the legal staff and do not appear in court. One reason for this is that, in most jurisdictions, consultants are not open to cross-examination. Sometimes lawyers do not want to use expert testimony if cross-examination by the opposing attorney may hurt the case. Usually witnesses appear in person because not all jurisdictions allow doctrine or written testimony. Frequently, this is an entry step for you to become an orthopedic expert witness.

Each country has rules and regulations governing who can become an orthopedic expert witness. Sometimes the regulations determine what testimony an orthopedic expert witness can give. In most regions, the expert witness's fee usually is not contingent on a trial's outcome.

Normally, if you want to become an orthopedic expert witness, you must have specialized knowledge about orthopedics or the practice of orthopedists. Many people qualify to be expert witnesses, but they do not realize that they are qualified. An orthopedic expert witness may testify in other places besides court. In some countries, there are non-court proceedings that require expert witnesses. Often people overlook these areas of employment.

Cases involving orthopedic expert witnesses are seldom serious crimes and are more likely to be civil cases. Often these cases cover surgical or nonsurgical treatments for musculoskeletal trauma, such as accidents, sports injuries, or other trauma. An expert may be required to make a judgment as to how an orthopedist treated a patient's ailment, such as a wrist injury, joint replacement, or spinal correction. To become effective as an expert witness, you should learn how to succinctly explain the medical situation in simple, layman's terms.

It may be easier to become an orthopedic expert witness if you sign on with a company that offers expert witnesses to lawyers. Most of these companies are large firms that offer experts in a wide variety of expertise. Others are more selective and offer experts only in the medical field; some specialize in orthopedics. This may be an excellent way to break into a career as an orthopedic expert witness.

You can get more ideas about how to become an orthopedic expert witness by reading books authored by expert witnesses, watching training video tapes, and reading articles on expert witness testifying. Many people suggest taking a few paralegal courses because it helps to know the differences between scientific reasoning and legal grounds. To be effective under questioning, you need to be comfortable in the courtroom. Some of the most important traits to learn are stress management, proper courtroom demeanor, and self-marketing.

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