By Stephen J. Isaacs, JD
© 2007 The Medical-Legal News
A legal nurse consultant makes a good fact witness in personal injury and criminal defense cases in order to prepare the jurors for the expert medical witness testimony.
A fact witness is a person with knowledge about events in a particular case and who testifies as to what happened or what the facts are. An LNC understands how to read, interpret, summarize and simplify the attorney’s medical records for lay people. Accordingly, they are excellent lay witnesses to use after they have reviewed the medical records since they can explain in simple terms the nature of the defendant’s or plaintiff’s health to a jury.
At a seminar last year I was asked why I used LNCs as fact witnesses. I explained that in my trials I learned that not all jurors are created equal — they all come from different educational backgrounds. As such, I stated it was best to present the medical evidence in a form clearly understandable by the judge, the witnesses, the jurors and the spectators. I do this by using LNCs to summarize the medical evidence from the medical records and bills, and then have them present their summary as a fact witness to the judge and jury.
For example, in a DUI arrest a police officer may mistake a person with health problems for an intoxicated person and arrest him or her for DUI. The health issues may include people with neurological, eye, nervous, inner ear, spinal, leg, knee, foot and ankle problems. These problems may result in a sober person being unable to complete the standard field sobriety tests. An LNC as a fact witness would be able to testify at trial as to the defendant’s medical condition, therefore simplifying the medical evidence for the judge and jury.
Note though, that an LNC testifying as a fact witness will not be able to render an opinion as an expert witness, unless first qualified as an expert. Full-time LNCs often are no longer clinically active, so would not be suitable as expert witnesses. •
Stephen J. Isaacs of the Isaacs Law Office is a member of The M-L News editorial board;firstname.lastname@example.org.