Expert Witness Roles and Requirements for South Carolina Medical Malpractice Cases

If your path forward from a malpractice injury leads you to file a claim, you’ll first need to find an expert witness who meets South Carolina requirements. Specialist testimony is a mandatory element of medical malpractice claims in South Carolina. Hiring an expert to opine about the injury is essential to proving the practitioner’s action or omission caused your harm and fell short of medical care standards. 

A medical malpractice expert witness must meet certain requirements under South Carolina law. Having legal counsel to help you navigate the complexities of South Carolina malpractice laws can help ensure the testimony adheres to established standards and supports your claim to provide the best possible outcome—relief, retribution, or recognition of wrongdoing.

The Impact of Expert Witnesses on Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice expert witness selection is a critical task because it can make the facts of your case difficult for the Defense to refute. The testimony provided must offer an unbiased professional opinion about the cause of the harm and how it is directly linked to the care the patient received. To be impactful, medical explanations must describe the adverse event in a way that a jury or judge (with little or no medical training) can digest. 

Breaking down tough concepts isn’t easy for every specialist, no matter how proficient they are in the field. When the witness communicates clearly and uses visual aids and real-world examples, the jury, judge, or mediator can comprehend the facts and conclude a breach of care resulted in the injury, illness, or loss.

South Carolina Expert Witness Requirements

Before you may file a malpractice lawsuit in the state of South Carolina, an affidavit—or official statement—from an expert witness must be obtained to accompany the Notice of Intent to file. The criteria mandating a witness statement helps prevent frivolous claims from overwhelming the legal system and offer merit to viable cases. 

Under South Carolina laws, any expert medical malpractice witness selected must meet these qualifications:

  • Be licensed by a regulatory agency to practice the profession in which they are an expert; and
  • Hold board certification in the area of practice or specialty related to the standard of care in question; or
  • Possess professional knowledge and experience (through teaching, practice, or a combination) in the area of practice related to the claim.

Selecting an Expert Witness for Medical Malpractice

Understandably, most people filing malpractice lawsuits in South Carolina will not know where to begin finding or choosing an expert witness. Thorough candidate research of their specialties, degrees or certifications, and training must be conducted to ensure the expert witness meets South Carolina’s requirements and will support your case. While the process of choosing a specialist may sound daunting, the importance of selecting the right expert witness for your malpractice case shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Before the selection process can even begin, the selector must understand the nature of your injury, whether it was due to a surgical error, birthing complications, or negligence during post-op care, to correctly identify a pool of subject-matter experts. Faculty lists at research universities, verdict reports of past medical malpractice lawsuits, and expert witness directories are examples of places to find potential candidates. These individuals must then be vetted and interviewed before settling on an expert.

Having an experienced malpractice law firm on your side streamlines this process and ensures the expert is not only qualified but also offers a professional opinion that supports your claim. 

South Carolina’s Expert Witness Testimony Standards

Providing testimony that fails to meet legal standards can cause the statements to be thrown out of court and weaken your case against the healthcare provider or practitioner. A setback from a disqualified witness or statement can be detrimental to the outcome of a case—a devastating development for anyone awaiting relief from a malpractice claim. 

Your legal team will need to understand the intricacies of South Carolina’s witness testimony requirements to ensure evidence or opinion presented is derived from acceptable, admissible sources. In short, there are two predominant standards, Daubert and Frye, that offer methods for judges to validate expert witness testimonies. How state courts interpret the standards can vary by jurisdiction, and not all states—South Carolina included—follow these principles exactly. 

An expert witness for a South Carolina malpractice case plays a larger role than you might realize. Choosing an investigative law firm with access to experts and knowledge of the intricate malpractice laws can ensure you’re presenting the strongest case for the best outcome. When you have experienced advocates by your side, you can focus on recovery while they handle the details.