A Physician Expert Witness Plays a Key Role in State and Federal Courts

When it comes to testimony in a jury trial, trust, professionalism and experience all play into the mix. The jury is hearing statements from two sides, each with it own position and goals. Perhaps one of the most trusted witnesses to take the stand in such a proceeding is a licensed physician. To most laypeople, just the credential alone qui facit per alium facit per se meaning carries a lot of steam, and for most physicians who’ve studied for several years to reach the level they’re at, knowledge is power. Physicians as expert witnesses are used in a variety of court proceedings, though mostly in jury trials, where it is their job to impart their knowledge onto the jury who will carry out justice in the end.
It is the physician’s job to describe to the jury, or other parties, exactly what kind of injuries have been imparted on the purported victim. Though this is not always the case, as the alleged suspect can hire his/her own physician to serve as an expert witness. While testifying the physician uses props such as diagrams and x-rays to show his or her conclusions.
An example where physicians were used as expert witnesses is the manslaughter trial of millionaire rancher Rodney John Sency. Sency, who owned a mountain ranch, was accused of manslaughter after he killed one of his workers with a sledgehammer. His attorney argued self-defense, because the victim had come at him with a knife after Sency fired from his position as ranch hand. But during the trial, which Sency was eventually acquitted of, both sides called to the stand physicians as expert witnesses to detail the injuries of the victim. The physicians each offered theories as to how many times Sency struck the victim and how hard he delivered the blows. The testimony of both physicians clashed somewhat, and in the end it was up to the jury to decide who to believe.
Physicians hired as expert witnesses generally charge steep rates to attorneys who hire them. Some physicians can command hourly rates as high as $3,000, though the general rate is around $500. With such figures, it’s not hard to understand why many physicians leave their practices or other positions to work in this field as a freelancer.
When it comes to hiring physicians as experts, there are websites attorneys can start with that list the experts by specialty. Physicians not only specialize in general medical injuries and other related litigation, but also work for insurance companies and other agencies filing claims in civil and federal court. When so much money is on the line for such parties, they will have no problem paying top dollar for the best physician experts.
The most notable cases for these experts are the ones where no hard evidence exists. For instance, an x-ray will show a broken leg, but some criminal law theories of punishment injuries, such as nerve injuries, require a more objective reading. These are classic cases where experts offer up their medical opinion.

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