3000 medical expert witnesses in personal injury litigation

Recently published in the University of Melbourne Law Review and now available for download without cost is a paper by Grant & Studdert entitled The Injury Brokers, An empirical profile of medical expert witnesses in personal injury litigation. The abstract explains:

In the civil justice system, medical expert witnesses act as brokers of what qualifies as legally recognized and compensable injury. Despite the central importance of their role, and continuing debate over the use of expert evidence, remarkably little empirical evidence is available about who medical experts are and what they do. This article reports findings from a study that built a detailed empirical profile of nearly 3000 instances of medical expert witness testimony, drawing from a sample of transport accident compensation cases in Victoria, Australia.

Interesting findings include the great preponderance of ‘repeat players’ and older, male witnesses.

A cadre of fewer than 50 experts provided nearly 60 per cent of the non-treating medical evidence examined in our study. Nearly all were clearly identifiable as plaintiff or defendant experts, based on the pattern of their involvements.

 The authors’ comment in their conclusion:

A crucial missing piece of empirical information in the policy discussions and academic commentary around medical expert
witnesses is whether and to what extent the quality of evidence differs across the groups of experts identified in this study. Addressing that question will probably require the development of new methods of empirical legal research, particularly appropriate measures of quality. It is worth trying.

A hint of more to come?