The Supreme Court of Virginia recently issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case stemming from a negligently performed cosmetic procedure. A woman filed a lawsuit against her doctor after she suffered permanent injuries to her right eye following cosmetic surgery. A jury found that the doctor was negligent and awarded the woman $800,000 in damages. The doctor appealed the verdict arguing, amongst other issues, that the court should not have permitted the woman to cross-examine his medical expert on the expert’s disciplinary record.
Before trial, the doctor asked the court to exclude his expert witness’s disciplinary history, including instances where he violated Virginia laws and regulations during his deployment. However, the court found that the evidence was relevant and denied the doctor’s motion. The court stated that the doctor could rehabilitate the witness on redirect and instructed the plaintiff that they could not mention the disciplinary issue during jury selection or their opening statement. During cross-examination, the plaintiff asked the expert about Virginia’s standard of care related to medical treatment and whether compliance is necessary. The plaintiff then questioned the expert regarding any violations or citations he received from the Board of Medicine.
Virginia law permits parties in a civil lawsuit to provide the jury with relevant evidence to bolster their position. However, the court can exclude evidence after weighing the probative value and prejudicial effect. If the probative value is substantially outweighed by prejudice, confusion, potential to mislead the jury, undue delay, or wasting time, the court may exclude the evidence. Generally, the court retains discretionary power when it comes to determining whether evidence should be excluded. The court will look to whether the evidence is relevant and if it has any tendency to prove a material element in a case.
In this case, the Supreme Court of Virginia found that the lower court appropriately used its discretionary power in allowing the evidence. They found that the expert’s adherence to applicable standards of care in the state is relevant to how much weight his opinion should receive. Ultimately, the court found that the lower court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion and affirmed the ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
Plaintiffs must abide by the strict evidentiary and procedural rules mandated by Virginia lawmakers. The outcome of a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit often hinges on expert witness testimony. As such, plaintiffs must understand what they need to prove to successfully bring a case and how to locate the appropriate experts.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Negligent Virginia Health Provider?
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of Virginia medical malpractice, contact the Virginia personal injury attorneys at Robinson Law. Our attorneys understand both the compassion and advocacy that Virginia injury victims need during these stressful proceedings. The attorneys at our firm have extensive trial experience and can help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Compensation may include payments for losses such as past medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our law firm today at 703-542-4008 to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated Virginia accident attorneys.