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Proving Malpractice: The Power of a Trusted Witness

Over the past four decades, attorney Bob Cheeley and his team at Cheeley Law Group have managed numerous medical malpractice cases. Based in Alpharetta, GA, the group annually ranks among the nation’s elite, but their caseload could be even higher. They do not accept every potential client who arrives at an initial consultation. Mr. Cheeley needs confidence that his team has sufficient evidence for a successful outcome in court.

“In most cases, when people believe they have a medical malpractice claim, they actually do not. It is not for the reason one might expect either,” Cheeley said. “Even if a patient were not cared for properly by a hospital or a doctor, they often do not have enough evidence to prove that there was a breach of what is known as the ‘Standard of Care,’ by the medical provider. This may include hospital staff, nurses, or even the treating physician.”

According to Cheeley, the “Standard of Care” is defined as an appropriate level of medical service in the medical profession. Before Cheeley takes a malpractice case, he thoroughly researches the potential plaintiff’s particular instance to determine if the medical provider met the standard. If Cheeley believes the standard was not met, he searches for a physician who treated the patient after the alleged incident and seeks to prove negligence.

If Cheeley can find such witnesses, he digs deep into their backgrounds to ensure they have the necessary training and expertise to overcome inevitable roadblocks. Common obstacles include the Daubert challenge. The Daubert challenge is a legal motion to stop unqualified expert witnesses from providing testimony to a judge or jury.

“Ideally, you can get the testimony of a physician who treated the client,” Cheeley said. “They’re the most effective witnesses because it’s harder for the defendant to challenge the opinion of a treating physician trying to care for the client who was the victim of medical malpractice.”

Cheeley insists that treating physicians who affirm a plaintiff’s claims are much more reliable than a paid expert witness, which jurors will view skeptically.

“It’s easier for the defense to attack a paid expert witness,” Cheeley said. “Non-treating physicians do not have the same level of credibility because they are paid to testify. I prefer to find people who have not been making a living out of testifying, and who also have another vocation. When asked why they agreed to testify, he or she can reply that they volunteered because it was the right thing to do. That is the most effective kind of expert that you can hope to find.”

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