If you are injured as a result of medical malpractice, you must prove what your doctor did or did not do deviated from the ordinary and prudent standard of care. Medicine is uncertain, and not every bad result is malpractice. So, the law generally compares your doctor's actions to those of other doctors in the same field. If other reasonable doctors would have done the same thing in the same situation, there is no liability for malpractice, even if the decision made by your doctor ultimately turns out to be wrong.
To show your medical providers acted negligently, extensive expert testimony is needed. A malpractice case may have medical testimony from your doctor, an expert your attorney hires to support your doctor's actions, and doctors for the other side, who will say that the medical provider you're suing acted reasonably and prudently.
Recent Case Involves Permanent Injury at Birth
A recent case decided by a Maryland appeals court has upheld a $20 million jury verdict because the court felt that although there was conflicting testimony between experts on both sides, ultimately, a jury can and did choose to believe one expert over another.
The case arose from the failure to conduct a cesarean section by the Plaintiff's doctors. Labor was induced because of high blood pressure in the mother and the baby. While in labor, a monitor showed that the baby was low on oxygen.
The Plaintiff's experts testified that this was a sure sign that a C-Section should be performed immediately. Yet, the Plaintiff's doctors allowed labor to continue for three more hours. The child was born oxygen deprived, with his umbilical cord around his neck, and with a kind of cerebral palsy that will leave him wheelchair bound for the remainder of his life.
Battle of the Experts
The hospital and doctor's experts testified that tests after delivery showed the child was not oxygen deprived after delivery, and thus, that his impairments were not a result of choosing not to do a C-Section. They also testified that it was near impossible for a soft umbilical cord to compress a child's jugular veins.
Of course, the Plaintiff's experts testified differently, saying a C-section should have immediately been performed. The jury ultimately believed the Plaintiff's experts, and awarded the $20 million verdict. On appeal, the appellate court upheld the decision.
The appellate court did not find either side's experts unbelievable. Both were found to be credible. It is not an appellate court's job to re-weigh evidence that the jury has already considered. So long as there is enough evidence for a jury to make its finding, that finding won't be overturned on appeal.
Because of the credibility of both sides' experts, the jury's findings were based on solid evidence, and thus, could not be overturned on appeal.
Why Experts Matter
Sometimes, more so than lawyers, in medical malpractice cases, it's the expert doctors that may persuade a jury one way or the other. And once that happens, there is almost no ability to appeal the decision of a jury to believe one expert over another.
This is exactly why so much money is put into finding qualified, credible, and experienced witnesses in medical malpractice cases. In many cases, juries may simply believe the expert that presents the often complex medical information the clearest. Presentation is often just as important as substance when it comes to experts.
Malpractice cases can be complex and involve proper analysis of medicine and proper selection of experts. If you're injured in Maryland, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.