Cross-Examining Mismatched Experts

I recently wrote about a problem we are seeing more and more often in car and truck accident injury cases- mismatched experts designated by defendants. What we mean by “mismatched experts” is that the expert identified by the defendant appears to be of the wrong type, or in the wrong field.

cross-examining mismatched expertsI had this situation recently in a car crash case. My client had a shoulder injury. Specifically, an AC joint separation that required surgery. The main issue in the case was whether the shoulder surgery was causally related to the car crash. My expert witness was one of the treating doctors- a local orthopedist who specializes in upper extremity surgery. This doctor is known as one of the top shoulder specialists in the area.

The defense did what would seem like the natural thing to do- it named an orthopedist as an expert witness. The problem was that the orthopedist the defense chose limits his practice to spine surgery and does not treat shoulder problems at all.  Why do they do this?  Cynically, I’ll tell you that most of these insurance companies would rather have an expert that they know will offer any testimony that they want.  They would rather have someone who is barely qualified to testify that they have paid well over the years than to hire someone who might slip and give a truly impartial opinion.

Cross-Examination Questions to Use with These Experts

So in addition to the two questions I threw out for these situations, here are a few more:

You specialize in spine surgery, correct?
The professional biography of you on your practice’s website indicates that your practice is limited to spine surgery?
What is the name of the surgical procedure that Dr. X performed on the plaintiff?
When was the last time you performed that operation?
You have read Dr. X’s deposition?
You disagree with his opinions?
Do you know Dr. X professionally?
What does he do?
As far as you know, he is an ethical, reputable doctor?
He is known as one of the top shoulder specialists in the metropolitan area?
Who knows more about shoulder problems, you or Dr. X?

Now, this kind of a cross only really works when your treating doctor actually is a well-known specialist at the top of his field. But you get the idea. Contrast your expert’s experience and qualifications with those of the mismatched expert, with the idea being that the jury should trust the opinion of the more qualified doctor.