Most Texas medical malpractice cases require experts to prove causation. There are exceptions where a jury does not need an expert to decide causation. Those medical malpractice cases are limited to those cases where a jury can use its own experience and common sense to determine causation. For example, a jury will not need an expert to establish a causal connection when a doctor inadvertently leaves a wire in a woman’s breast.
Another example is an elderly plaintiff who sustained personal injury at a Texas nursing home after he fell while walking down a hall in the office and sustained serious brain injuries . The defendants moved to dismiss the case on the basis that the plaintiff failed to provide expert testimony. However, the Court denied the dismissal indicating that the medical provider’s failure to provide an escort or medical device to assist the plaintiff was within the realm of the jury’s common sense and general experience. Even the defendants’ expert testified that the plaintiff required an escort to prevent falling.
In order for the court to admit expert testimony, the expert must be qualified in the particular area and the admitted facts must support the expert opinion. For example, on Texas negligence claims against a physician or hospital, the expert should be a doctor who can testify on the alleged departure from accepted standards of care. The same logic applies to Texas dental malpractice claims or Texas podiatrist malpractice claims . A nurse is generally not qualified to render an opinion on the medical causation of injury unless that opinion is used in conjunction with another doctor’s opinion.
Rule 702 of the Texas Rules of Evidence governs the admission of expert testimony. First the expert must be qualified. Second, his proposed testimony must have scientific or technical foundation. The trial court has the discretion to apply such standards to determine the admission of expert testimony.
In Robinson, a Texas product liability case , the plaintiff sued a pesticide manufacturer for a product that damaged their pecan trees. Initially, despite the plaintiff’s expert credentials, the plaintiff’s expert was not allowed to testify due to alleged unreliable testimony. The Texas Supreme Court in response adopted the Daubert standard indicating that both relevancy and reliability were needed for admissibility of an expert’s testimony. The Court cited such factors as the extent of scientific testing of the expert’s theory, the amount of subjective expert interpretation, peer review of the theory, potential rate of error, acceptance of the theory by the scientific community, and non-judicial uses of the theory.
As you can see, a Texas personal injury lawsuit begins and ends with the quality of the expert. The expert’s theory must be relevant and reliable. If you can overcome the hurdles involved and get the expert’s testimony admitted, a Texas medical malpractice or San Antonio wrongful death attorney can recover what you deserve.