Expert Witnesses May Become Harder to Line Up
Cleveland, OH (Law Firm Newswire) July 16, 2013 - Another set of changes to medical malpractice rules has been passed in Florida.
“Each time a state trots out more legislation to change medical malpractice rules, it's a fair bet medical negligence victims end up taking the brunt of the changes,” indicated Christopher Mellino, a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.
The most recent legislative addition to the Florida legal landscape is SB 1792, that mandates that an expert witness called for the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must practice precisely the same kind of medicine as the defendant. They can no longer be in similar fields. “Rather than helping a plaintiff, this piece of legislation effectively limits the pool of expert witnesses that are available to testify in a trial,” Mellino explained. Further, the bill permits, but does not mandate, that other health care professionals called to court may violate patient confidentiality and provide the defendant's lawyer with details about a plaintiff's care and treatment.
“Although this supposedly only applies to the fact-finding preliminary process of gathering information about the case, it is questionable whether or not that would be adhered to once an actual lawsuit has been filed,” added Mellino.
The legislation states that once a suit is filed, state court rules then restrict who lawyers may talk to and what kinds of questions they may ask. That process may become redundant if attorneys may question virtually anyone they choose in the initial stages of pre-filing. “This kind of legislation opens the door for invading the privacy of medical records,” said Mellino. It appears the legislative changes present more hurdles and barriers for medical malpractice victims, making it harder for them to hold a medical professional accountable for an error and to find true justice.
Many states, in an effort to address controversial measures touted by tort reform, have brought various laws into effective that directly impact the quality of justice available to a medical negligence victim. “Those individuals are entitled to justice and fair compensation,” Mellino pointed out. “They trusted a medical professional who forever changed their lives. They must be held accountable for their errors.”
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