Go to navigation Go to content

Does your medical expert need to be formally qualified as an expert by some judicial authority in order to testify at trial?

Many years ago the answer was “Yes.”

Today however in New York, in cases involving medical malpractice, accidents and wrongful death, it is less likely that a judge is going to require an attorney to formally authenticate and request permission for the doctor testify as an expert.

In the “Old days,” a lawyer would put his medical expert on the witness stand.

“Your Honor, plaintiff calls to stand Dr. Jones!”

The plaintiff's attorney would then begin asking the medical expert questions about the doctor's credentials.

“Doctor you graduated from this medical school?

You then went on to perform postgraduate training known as a residency program?

You then became licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York?

You even became board-certified, which is the highest level of certification a doctor can achieve in your specialty, correct?

You are now the chairman of emergency room medicine at this big metropolitan hospital here in New York City?”

The attorney would then asked the judge “Your Honor, at this time I asked the court to recognize that Dr. Jones is an expert in emergency room medicine.”

The judge would look over at the defense attorney and ask if there was any objection. If there was, the defense attorney would stand up and ask “Your Honor at this time I would like to voir dire this doctor on his qualifications.”

What this meant was that the attorney was permitted to ask the doctor cross examination type questions just on the basis of his qualifications. Once he finished the judge would then make a determination as to whether this doctor was qualified as a medical expert and had the authority to testify in this case.

However, in modern days most judges in New York no longer require this formal authentication and certification of a doctor being a medical authority prior to allowing the doctor to testify. Instead, the reasoning is that the jury is the one to determine how much weight to give to the doctor's testimony based upon his credentials, his knowledge and expertise.

The jury is well within their realm to disregard some or all of the doctor's testimony or give it full credit and authority.

Despite the fact that most judges no longer require this type of official certification to testify as an expert, the defense attorney will still have an opportunity, should he wish, to cross-examine the doctor about his specific credentials and whether he has sufficient experience and knowledge to be testifying about the subject.


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer