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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Qualifying an expert witness in Montana

Medical malpractice claims may be one of the more common forms of legal actions initiated in Bozeman and throughout the rest of the state. Indeed, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank, 1,350 of such claims resulted in payouts to patients in Montana from 2005-2015. Yet those numbers may give the impression that successfully arguing such cases is easy. On the contrary, proving a claim of negligence against a physician or healthcare practitioner may be extremely difficult, as he or she likely has an expert level understanding of his or her field.

In order to prove a claim, the plaintiffs in such cases may need to support their assertions with opinions from other healthcare professionals. However, doing so requires more than simply asking another doctor to testify on one’s behalf. Rather, one must meet the qualifications set forth in order to qualify as an expert witness.

The criteria to meet this standard can be found in the Annotated Code of Montana. First off, it states that to be considered an expert in a healthcare-related field, one must be a licensed healthcare practitioner in at least one state, and has either treated patients in the same field or with a similar diagnosis as that which is at issue in a malpractice claim within the last five years, or has trained or instructed students in dealing with the same or a similar condition related to that at issue in a case during the same time frame.

Non-clinical experts may also be qualified to testify in a malpractice case if they have proven that through education and experience, they are well-versed in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of a condition that is the subject of a claim. 

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