The law requires that virtually all medical malpractice cases must be proven with medical expert testimony. The only exceptions are for those rare cases involving sponges or instruments which have been left inside of patients.
Although there is certainly a large market of out of town “hired guns” to testify, these type of experts usually do far more harm than good to the case. Thus, it is essential that an experienced medical malpractice attorney with access to the top, well-credentialed experts be retained.
Generally, the type of expert to be retained must be a physician who practices in the same specialty as the accused doctor. Since most physicians will not testify against other physicians in the same state in which they practice, most testifying experts are from out of state.
When the case proceeds to trial, most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will tell you that it is absolutely essential that the medical expert witness appear live at trial to render his testimony. This is because it is hard to explain the difficult medical concepts to a jury without using drawings and charts to illustrate his explanations. Also, if a highly credentialed physician cares enough about the case to travel from out of state to testify, then the jury will be swayed that it must be a legitimate case.
However, wanting the medical expert to appear live at trial and getting him there on the appointed date are two different things. Top experts lead extraordinarily busy schedules. To come to trial, the expert will likely have to cancel or postpone many scheduled patients. This will cost him a lot of money. Also, there is no guarantee that he will be able to fly in and fly out in one day to render his testimony.