In order to pursue your personal injury case, we usually need an expert to testify as to the causal connection between the negligent act and the injuries that you sustain.This is called the causation issue. Until now, only a medical doctor could testify as to the causal link between your auto accident, for example, and your personal injuries. If you are rear-ended in an auto accident and require knee surgery, we usually still need an expert to testify that your knee surgery was caused by the negligence of the driver who rear-ended you.
Recently, the issue came up before the Courts whether a medical doctor was required to make the causal connection. For example, why not a nurse? Could a nurse testify as to the causal connection between someone’s negligence and his medical condition?
Well, the Courts have answered that question. Nurses may now testify as expert witnesses on causation issues in a negligence action. This is an enormous development.
The Court, in the decision, found that an otherwise competent and qualified nurse isnot prohibited by the Professional Nursing Law from giving expert testimony at trial regarding medical causation.
What this means is now, for example, a nurse is allowed to testify on this causation issue at trial in, for example, a trucking accident case, or a slip & fall case or in just about any kind of personal injury case.
The reason why this is such a huge ruling is that doctors charge an awful lot of money for a medical report and their testimony. As previously noted, it is not at all unusual for a surgeon or other medical specialist to charge $3,500 for one hour of her time when testifying at a deposition.
Now in a case where the injuries are maybe not as severe, in that there is not surgery involved and it is a soft tissue injury, the plaintiff’s attorney may have an option. The attorney can use a nurse to establish the medical causation and thereby incur less expenses for the client.
You understand it is the client that is ultimately responsible for payment of costs incurred. It is generally believed that nurses will charge a lot less than doctors for the same testimony regarding causation.
This does not mean that the nurses will be used as expert witnesses in all cases in the future. In fact, it is likely that they will only be used on a limited basis. However, there are some situations where nurse’s testimony could help your case.
What do you think about this new tool that plaintiffs have in establishing their case? Please, I really want to hear from you!!