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Why the Doctor is Called Upon First in a Medical Malpractice Case

Usually in any medical malpractice case in the state of New York, the doctor who has treated the plaintiff will be called first to the witness stand to provide his testimony. When a medical malpractice lawsuit is initiated, the plaintiff's lawyer has to prove the case by a preponderance of evidence. This means the lawyer has to establish that his client is more likely right than wrong, in what he is claiming to be true.

One of the best ways of doing this is to put the doctor being sued on the witness stand right in the beginning of the trial. You may want to do this so that the case can be presented to the jury right at the outset-in terms of what exactly happened.

Why is the Treating Doctor Called First to the Witness Stand?

Many people think that since they are the injured victims, the jury should hear from them first. The victim feels he should be telling the jury exactly what happened, since he has suffered the problem. This may be true; however, when you bring in the doctor being sued, first on the witness stand, it is much better practice. When the doctor is brought first on to the witness stand, many things start happening, which are:

1. The plaintiff's lawyer will be able to get all the medical records of his client admitted into evidence.

2. The attorney will be able to ask the doctor what problems the plaintiff had. This way the attorney will be able to present to the jury, why his client had gone to the doctor, and what tests and evaluations the doctor did to evaluate this patient.

3. The attorney will then ask the doctor what exactly was his treatment plan, and what he thought the proper course of action was wise to take.

Building a Foundation for the Case

After the doctor leaves the witness stand, whoever comes later to testify, the plaintiff's lawyer will be able to use the foundation that he had laid down while questioning the doctor first on the witness stand. The original information provided by the doctor will be the foundation on which the whole case will be built. By the time, medical expert witnesses are brought to the stand later, the defense doctor's original testimony is already in evidence. These experts will be able to base their conclusions on information that is already presented to the jury, and which is already in evidence.

This is the key strategic reason why the doctor being sued is called to the witness stand first at the trial. When the doctor being sued is called first to the stand, the plaintiff's lawyer has the opportunity to make the doctor explain to jury what problem the plaintiff was suffering from, the tests and examinations that were performed to arrive at the diagnosis and the treatment plan that was prescribed.

Winning the Court Over Right at the Outset

Additionally, the lawyer can have the doctor present his own medical records as evidence. Now the jury will have a clear understanding of what happened from the perspective of the doctor. If the plaintiff is put on the witness stand first, his testimony may not have any impact, since he is not a medical expert. Once certain facts are established from the point of view of the treating doctor, all other testimonies can be based on this original testimony.

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