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Pediatric Cases and Expert Witnesses - Unique Factors

There are certain unique factors within a pediatric case that involve either the child affected or the circumstances surrounding the case that need exposure. Some of these factors may center around the medical aspect while others have a greater concern about behavior patterns, and there are some situations that require a psychological evaluation.

There exist a number of unique factors involved in a pediatric case when an expert witness must become involved. These primarily revolve around the age of the victim or child that has a connection to the claim or case. If the youth is the person that sustains an injury, the professional may need to explain the specific elements of the medical matter, behavioral complications or psychological issues that could arise based on the significantly younger age of the victim. The professional may even have a direct association with the doctor for the victim or plaintiff. This could lead to a criminal case where the expert works with prosecution or litigation with the professional as the designated expert witness for the plaintiff.

Age of the Child in the Case

Many cases involving children of younger years may require that the victim remains outside of the
courtroom during the ongoing trial. Some may even exclude any necessary testimony from the victim if doing so could damage the child further. However, when the young person needs to take part, he or she generally has a guardian or parent with him or her at all times. He or she may need extra coaching if testifying in court does occur. The expert witness attached to the pediatric case may need to corroborate or expound on the child’s testimony so there is a clear foundation for the information.

The Sympathy for the Child

When the child is the victim of some form of injury, whether abuse, violence or an accident, the jury has a higher degree of sympathy for the young person. This could create a bias against the defendant in either litigation or criminal cases. A full-scale investigation into the matter either by the expert or law enforcement may provide additional details for the subject matter. In claims for compensation, the testimony of the child may have corroborating details from the pediatric expert witness. The sympathy for the youth may increase after hearing his or her connection to the incident. Any harm caused by the defendant has a more negative light cast due to the connection with a child and the sympathy created for such claims.

Impaired Children

When the case involves an injury that causes an impairment or disability to a young person, this may increase the success of a plaintiff or prosecution depending on the circumstances. For cases that involve criminal matters, the defendant may need to oppose or refute the testimony of a youth for his or her injuries at the hand of the defending party. In litigation, the plaintiff may present a claim with testimony of how the defendant is responsible for the injury either through a direct connection or through negligence. In medical cases, the pediatric expert will need to present evidence of medical records and details about the injuries involved.

Long-Term Effects and Development

An expert witness involved in pediatric cases may need to explain the long-term effects of injury to the body of a child. Broken bones, extensive internal damage and harm to the brain could all cause long-term alterations to the life of a young person. If the matter involves medical negligence or malpractice, the child could remain affected by disability, impairments to certain senses or healthcare conditions that harm him for years. The younger the youth is, the greater the harm he or she may experience due to the incident. Some unique factors exist if the injury occurs to a newborn baby.

The development of the child is important, and any injury or harm to the body of the youth could affect the developing system negatively. Harm to the brain could cause neurological effects. Damage to bones, tissues or ligaments may lead to limps or impaired motor skills. Emotional or psychological injury could alter the course of the development of the young person throughout his or her life.

The Expert’s Testimony in Pediatric Claims

A pediatric expert witness may need to explain how the incident affects the child specifically. The various unique factors that the claim may involve could change how much compensation is necessary or what type of criminal sentencing is necessary in criminal cases affecting younger victims.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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