Can I be an expert witness if I mostly treat patients?
Clinical Practice is a Plus
In fact, you are considered a more valuable expert witness when it is clear you practice what you claim to know.
Attorneys prefer an expert witness who can testify about what they experience in their day-to-day practice treating clients/patients.
100% Forensic Expert
The Expert Witness who does only forensic (medicolegal) work is vulnerable to the dreaded “Hired Gun” misnomer.
In that scenario, 100% of your income is reliant on your opinions and, ultimately, testimony. A smart opposing counsel will characterize you and your practice as “desperate for work and therefore likely to spew out opinions attorneys like, so they will come back for more.” The damage is done, whether it’s true or not.
You can have a significant forensic practice but should always do some clinical work.
If you aren’t seeing patients on a regular basis in a hospital, clinic or private practice, then consider volunteering your medical services.
If your practice is primarily clinical, but you want a little forensic work on the side, you will need to clarify for attorneys that you do forensic work but it is not your primary practice. This is a plus. Treatment, Doing No Harm, Medicine is what jurors expect of a physician.
What Attorneys Expect
- Skill testifying (not necessarily volume of testimony experience)
- Rendering an objective opinion in a report that addresses what is relevant in a legal matter. In other words, an Expert Opinion vs. a Second Opinion. A second opinion is focused on diagnosis and treatment-for patients and other treating doctors.