Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program
Quickie Consult 124
"The CV - A Lawyer's Perspective"
The Importance of a Curriculum Vitae of a Health Care Provider
By Stephen A. Ruland, Esq. of Counsel to the law firm of Tierney & Tierney, Esqs.
I have been in practice as an attorney for twenty (20) years and a trial attorney, mainly focusing on personal injury cases, for fifteen (15) years.
On many occasions during a damage trial, besides your client’s own testimony, a case can be won or lost based on the credentials of your medical expert. In order to properly set forth your case, you have to qualify your expert in the specialty (specialties) which best advocates your position. If the judge in your case believes that your medical witness does not qualify in certain aspects, he or she may be precluded from testifying. Say, for example, you have a situation whereby your client is involved in a motor vehicle accident. Your client is hit in the rear, at a low speed, and there is no noticeable damage to the vehicle. Your client suffers a neck injury as a result of the impact. You can make certain that the opposing counsel will “show” the pictures of your client’s vehicle to the jury. How do you combat that situation as a plaintiff’s trial attorney? If you do not have an engineer as an expert, you may be able to utilize a medical expert that has extensive background in the scenario set forth above. Your medical expert who has expertise in cervical injuries may have also attended seminars and took certified classes regarding low speed rear impact cases, as well as accident reconstruction. If so, you may not need the engineer. However, you better have your witness (the doctor) ready to testify before the judge about his course work and credentials. In convincing the judge you will need an up-to-date Curriculum Vitae (CV).
The CV will outline for the Court the credentials of your witness. A well-written CV will go far in swaying the Court’s decision to permit the testimony of your expert. Furthermore, the CV is an outline that the trial attorney will utilize in convincing the Court and ultimately, the jury, that your witness could testify to many aspects of the case, which includes causation of the injury, and that his testimony may be more convincing than that of the opposing expert.
The credentials of the witness (doctor) can be so swaying that sometimes the opposing side will stipulate that your witness is an expert in a certain area just so the jury does not have to hear all of your expert’s credentials. Of course, if your expert is well qualified, you would want the jury to hear everything.
In conclusion, most times your case will be won or lost upon the credibility of your client. However, many times when the jury is not sure what to do, they will look at your experts. They will consider the experts' believability, which hinges on their credentials. A properly written CV can sway a Court, in the first instance, to permit your witness to testify, and the credentials within it could convince a jury that your expert is more believable than that of the opposing side.