Legal Memorandum: Same Specialty Requirement for Expert Witnesses

Issue: Under Nevada law, must an expert-witness physician be from the same specialty as the defendant-physician?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Expert medical witness; Same specialty as the defendant; Skill, knowledge, experience
Jurisdiction: Indiana, Nevada
Cited Cases: 718 N.E.2d 1217; 768 P.2d 885; 851 P.2d 450; 170 P.3d 503
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2014

There is no requirement in Nevada that an expert medical witness be from the same specialty as the defendant; the issue is simply one of the witness’s actual knowledge.  Staccato v. Valley Hosp., 170 P.3d 503, 506 (Nev. 2007).  “Indeed, an expert witness need not be licensed to practice in a given filed to be considered qualified to testify as an expert.”  Id. at 530-31; see also Freeman v. Davidson, 768 P.2d 885, 886-87 (Nev. 1989) (rejecting a per se disqualification rule based on lack of licensure, and noting that an expert witness need not be licensed to testify as an expert as long as he or she has specialized knowledge, training, and education to provide a standard-of-care opinion; also holding that the fact that the expert offered on the issue of malpractice was not licensed to practice medicine until after the date of the alleged malpractice did not preclude her from testifying in that case) ), cited in Staccato at n.14. 

In the Staccato case, the court held that an ER physician was not disqualified from testifying as an expert about the appropriate standard of care for administering intramuscular injections simply because the person who administered the injection to the patient in that case was a nurse.  This is because in Nevada, expert witness assessments turn on whether the proposed witness’s special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education will assist the jury.  Staccato, 170 P.3d at 506 (citing Nev. Rev. Stat. § […]

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