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The role of expert witnesses in Texas medical malpractice law

Much of the analysis of medical malpractice in Texas centers on the types of injuries that can form the basis of a medical malpractice claim and the types of damages that are recoverable. While these are important subjects to consider, it is also essential to remember that in this area of personal injury law in particular, "The devil is in the details." One key area in which attention to detail is needed is the selection of supporting experts.

Texas law makes it mandatory for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action to secure the support of at least one medical expert. That expert needs to prepare a report within 120 days of the lawsuit filing date, and the report needs to be served on the defendants in the same time frame. Failure to observe this requirement can not only be fatal to the lawsuit, but it may even result in the defending doctor or other health care professional being awarded court costs and attorney's fees.

Once you have met the deadline to file the expert medical report, the report itself must meet criteria to qualify it as an objective and good faith attempt to lay out the relevant standard of medical care, the failure of the defendant to meet that standard, and a causal linkage of that failure to the damages that you sustained. Failure to meet these criteria can result in the disqualification of the expert report with its consequent fatal effect on your lawsuit.

Lastly, the law makes expert testimony a requirement to set forth the basic elements establishing a cause of action against the defendant-doctor. Not just anyone can qualify as an expert witness: the law establishes qualification requirements, such as requiring that the expert be either a practicing medical professional in the area of medicine that is the subject of the lawsuit or at least have been practicing at the time that the injury occurred.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of choosing the right expert to support your medical malpractice claim. Failure in meeting this prerequisite can defeat your lawsuit in the preliminary stage or during trial. Likewise, choosing a personal injury law firm that understands how critical it is to properly select and prepare a medical expert report 

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