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Finding "Expert Witnesses"

Because one of the key elements in proving liability in an asbestos lawsuit is establishing a link between your illness and asbestos exposure, it’s often necessary to have experts in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will help you find the expert witnesses you need. He may want to call the doctor who diagnosed your condition, those who have treated you, doctors and researchers who are familiar with asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases and others who can establish a positive link between asbestos exposure and the condition that you have.

Unfortunately, unless your family doctor is an expert in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma, chances are that he won’t make a very convincing expert witness. That’s one reason that your lawyer may recommend that you see particular specialists in the field of asbestos-related diseases. An experienced asbestos litigator will know doctors who are not only expert in the medical field, but are also comfortable with and knowledgeable about the trial process and the kind of information that is needed in a lawsuit.

Why you need medical experts in a mesothelioma case

Medical experts play many different roles in an asbestos lawsuit. Some may never take the stand at all, and only serve as a consultant to your lawyers. Others help establish the link between your condition and the asbestos to which you were exposed, and still others may testify during the trial as expert witnesses about prognosis or about the cause of your disease. Among the functions that medical experts may serve in an asbestos lawsuit are the following:

  • An attorney may ask a medical expert to evaluate a mesothelioma case and determine whether the claim has any legal merit. A medical consultant can also help evaluate how much damage and injury there is from the asbestos for use in negotiating a settlement for the plaintiff.
  • A medical expert may be asked to examine you or your medical records and prepare a report of his findings to be presented in pre-trial proceedings or in settlement negotiations.
  • Testimony by a medical expert is often presented at trial to provide proof of a critical element in your case. This may be evidence of the type of asbestos found in your lungs, or of the type of asbestos that typically causes your symptoms. It may involve explaining to a jury how asbestos will affect your life or discuss other aspects of your medical history that may be important in determining liability in your asbestos lawsuit.
  • Occasionally, an attorney may use a medical expert to identify and recruit other medical experts to testify at trial. This may happen in a case where the original expert is unavailable to testify because of a conflict of schedule or interest, or because another witness may have credentials that are more relevant to your case.

What qualifies a medical expert in a mesothelioma case

While the courts don’t have specific requirements for what constitutes an “expert,” there are certain considerations to take into account. The experts that you choose should be able to explain the medical facts of your case clearly and convincingly to a jury of non-experts. Besides the ability to interpret and explain things clearly, they must have the education and credentials to show a judge and jury that they’re qualified to make the findings that they have made, and their credentials and motives must stand up to scrutiny by opposing counsel. Your lawyer will look for medical experts with the following qualities to help establish your case for compensation in a mesothelioma lawsuit:

  • Education. Doctors and researchers from well-known, prestigious schools make a better impression on the average people who are likely to be on your jury, and on the judge.
  • Experience. The more experience a doctor has in diagnosing and treating patients with asbestos-related conditions, the better the impression he’ll make on the people who will be deciding your case. That’s one of the main reasons that your own family physician may not be your most effective expert witness at trial – most general physicians, and even oncologists, are not truly experts at treating mesothelioma, asbestosis or pleural plaques.
  • Expertise within the field. Even within the field, there are those that are regarded as having a specialty or expertise. For instance, your lawyer may want to put on the stand a radiologist who is an acknowledged expert in identifying different forms of asbestos, or an oncologist who is doing research on new treatments for mesothelioma and can demonstrate a high level of knowledge of its symptoms and origin.
  • Presentation. Even the most knowledgeable doctors don’t always come across well to the jury at trial. You’ll want to choose experts who are comfortable with the trial process, and who know how to present information in a way that is easy to understand and believe by the average person. An experienced mesothelioma attorney will have worked with many medical experts, and will know which ones come across well to juries.
  • Practice, publication and teaching. Generally, an expert witness who has lectured, taught or published medical papers about mesothelioma, asbestos and related subjects has more credibility. As in any other field, when one is teaching others it can be assumed that they know more about the subject.
  • Objectivity. An appearance of neutrality or objectivity adds to the credibility of an expert witness. If an expert witness often appears in lawsuits testifying for either plaintiffs or defendants, their credibility can be damaged with the appearance of being a paid spokesperson for one side or the other.

The best resource in finding expert witnesses to testify on your behalf in an asbestos-related lawsuit is an attorney who has experience in asbestos litigation. A law firm that works extensively with asbestos-related cases has developed relationships and contacts within the medical community dealing with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other pleural and epithelial conditions related to asbestos, and understands what qualities make an effective expert witness. Trust your lawyer’s judgment when it comes to finding expert testimony to support your case. It’s his job to know who juries will believe.

An experienced asbestos-litigation attorney is in the best position to evaluate and work with medical experts who will be strong advocates in your mesothelioma case. Williams Hart Law Firm has the experience you need; call us today.

Expert witnesses charge for their time by the hour. However, like all other legal costs, Williams Hart will advance these expenses. Clients do not reimburse Williams Hart for court costs and litigation expenses until and unless a recovery is made in their case.

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