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The Medical Expert

Contrary to conventional thinking, the critical conversation in the initial stages of a Medical Negligence* action is, often, not the conversation of the client with his/her solicitor, but the conversation of the solicitor with an expert.

This is definitely the case in medical negligence actions.

The issue in a medical negligence action is whether the defendant deviated from approved or appropriate practice. It is an error, usually, to think that the plaintiff will succeed if he/she proves that there would have been no injury had the defendant followed a different course of action. (The exceptional case where it would not be an error would be one where the court was persuaded that the conventional practice carried such obvious defects that it was indefensible and where the court effectively condemns the defendant and the practice.)

Thus, in the conversation with the expert, the solicitor is assessing the likelihood of the success of a defence claiming conventional merit for the defendant’s actions.

Incidentally, the solicitor is also required to make an assessment of the quality of the expert.

Sometimes the quality of an expert shines out.

Often, in the conversation between the solicitor and the expert, the expert is not aware of any body of opinion supporting the defendant’s actions. This implies a criticism either of the expert or of the defendant.

It is the solicitor’s job to correctly judge whether the expert or the defendant is wrong.