August 7, 2019

Can I Appeal My Malpractice Case?

Laws in Michigan are not always the same as the laws in other states. If a malpractice attorney brings a suit against a hospital, doctor, or even a nurse, the defendant may appeal the decision by the courts once it is given. Likewise, if a plaintiff loses the case against the defendant, the plaintiff may also file an appeal.

The laws in Michigan protect each party in both situations, but the parties need to be aware of how the courts view the evidence in these cases. It is essential to make sure that witnesses for either side are qualified and prepared.

Status of Expert Witnesses

Recently in Michigan, the Court of Appeals ruled that it is important and relevant to determine the status of the witnesses if they are testifying in a medical malpractice suit. As a word of caution to attorneys, the court made it very clear that the status of an expert witness must have a degree of superiority over the witness being disputed.

In a recent case in 2018, the plaintiff was alleging that the defendant was negligent when making her appeal for an overturning of the original court decision, which was against the plaintiff and supported defendants. The complaint was against a doctor and a registered nurse. The plaintiff accused the doctor and nurse of making errors in the delivery of her child with the result causing injuries to her baby. The mother used a nurse practitioner as an expert witness because the nurse practitioner maintained higher credentials than the registered nurse and in the opinion of the nurse practitioner, the doctor and the registered nurse were at fault.

The three judges in charge of the case did not even hear the arguments because they determined that the “expert witness “for the plaintiff was not qualified. In reality, and looking at the basic facts of the argument, a nurse practitioner has more credentials and therefore deserves a higher status than a registered nurse. However, in this case, the judges felt that because the nurse practitioner had spent about 15 years teaching and not practicing nursing directly with doctors, she was not qualified to give an opinion on the actions and decisions of the registered nurse who was involved with the delivery. The doctor was not mentioned in the appeals case because of his status as a doctor.

What about Doctors?

Doctors can have the same type of status question if they are called to testify as an expert witness. There are, in fact, two different categories of doctors based on training and experience. One type, an MD, is formerly known as an allopathic doctor, and the other type known as an osteopathic doctor, DO, have different degrees of status. Although the services that each performs may have no differences, an MD or allopathic doctor cannot be used as an expert witness to refute the decisions of an osteopathic doctor. This is a legal definition and one that most malpractice attorneys will be aware of if you work with them to file an appeal or a claim.

Summary and Final Thoughts

It is possible for a party in a malpractice lawsuit to file an appeal they are not in agreement with the court’s decision. However, it is vital that the “expert witness” that the attorneys bring to the hearing have the appropriate status to be able to refute the testimony of the witnesses on the other side or the medical and legal status of the defendant. The law offices of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., has the expertise and experience to make sure that your case has the right witnesses in place to be successful. Contact our law firm at (1-866-MICH-LAW) 1-866-642-4529 to arrange for a free consultation.

Tristan is a professional writer and had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher’s union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.

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