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Using Expert Witnesses in a Michigan Medical Malpractice Case

August 11, 2022

When a patient brings a medical malpractice lawsuit, he or she must prove that the doctor or hospital caused their injuries.

Because this type of case involves complicated issues and terminology, an expert witness is engaged to assist the jury. The expert witness will render their professional opinion about whether or not the physician, nurse, or clinic violated the standard of care, which caused the plaintiff’s injury.

What is the Standard of Care?

A professional owes a reasonable duty of care to a customer—or in this case a patient—while providing services. In healthcare, if a medical professional provides a substandard level of care, it can result in severe injuries and a medical malpractice claim.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional injures a patient by an act or by the failure to act that deviates from the standard or accepted practice within the medical community.

Specifically in Michigan, MCL 600.2912a(1)(b) states that, as to the standard of care for a specialist, “the plaintiff has the burden of proving that in light of the state of the art existing at the time of the alleged malpractice” that the defendant “failed to provide the recognized standard of practice or care within that specialty as reasonably applied in light of the facilities available in the community or other facilities reasonably available under the circumstances…” in addition, the standard of care applicable to a specialist in a medical malpractice action is “that of a reasonable specialist practicing medicine in the light of present day scientific knowledge.”

A medical malpractice action requires the jury to decide whether the medical professional’s actions constitute negligence. To make that determination, the jury will consider the testimony from the medical experts brought by each party.

An expert witness can help the plaintiff patient show that there was negligence by discussing specific actions or omissions by the defendant healthcare provider in the case. This may include failing to order a specific lab test, making a misdiagnosis, performing a surgical procedure incorrectly, or a delay in making a diagnosis.

Who is the Expert Witness?

An expert witness in a medical malpractice case must be qualified and have expertise that’s relevant to the specifics of the case. This means that the medical professional must be in the same specialty as the defendant physician.

Do All Michigan Medical Malpractice Cases Require an Expert Witness?

Yes. In Michigan, an expert must review a case of alleged medical malpractice and certify the case has merit through a legal document called an “affidavit of merit.”


A qualified and experienced expert witness is critical to a Michigan medical malpractice lawsuit.

An expert witness can provide insight to the jury and help them determine if the treatment was appropriate based on his or her experience and knowledge, and can be a key component of a compelling case.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due that may be due to the care and treatment of a healthcare professional or medical facility, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Buchanan Firm in Michigan for a free consultation. We can discuss your situation and determine if an expert witness should be consulted to help win your case.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today!