American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Retrieved on February 28, 2013. American association of neurological surgeons – expert witness guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aans.org/en/AANS and JNSPG Publications/AANS Neurosurgeon/AANS Neurosurgeon Issues/2002/Spring 2002 – Issue 1/Expert Witness Guidelines.aspx?sc_database=web (Note: Expert Witness Guidelines)
AANS Expert Witness Guidelines
In December 1983 the AANS Board of Directors adopted the following guidelines for testimony by neurosurgeons acting as expert witnesses. They remain in effect today, but augmented by the AANS Position on Testimony, which immediately follows.
In our society, it is customary that testimony be given in all adversary proceedings brought before the court system. The AANS has adopted a position advising all neurosurgeons to testify impartially and prudently for both the defendant and the plaintiff in matters brought before the courts.
Witnesses are designated as expert witnesses if they have knowledge of any specific topics thought to be beyond the ken of the average layman. Expert witnesses are expected to be impartial and should not adopt a position of advocacy except as a spokesman for the field of special knowledge that they represent. The neurosurgical expert witness must testify as to the practice behavior of a prudent neurosurgeon giving differing viewpoints, if such there are.
Prior to offering any testimony the expert neurosurgical witness should:
- Become familiar with all pertinent data of the particular matter at issue.
- Review prior and current concepts related to standard neurosurgical practice in the matter at issue.
- Not concern himself with the legal issues of the matter in question.
- Identify as such, personal opinions not generally accepted by other neurosurgeons.
In this manner the neurosurgical expert witness presents to the court those opinions which represent the broad spectrum of neurosurgical thought and practice.
Compensation of the neurosurgical expert witness should be reasonable and commensurate with the time and effort given to preparing for his deposition or court appearance.
AANS Position on Testimony in Professional Liability Cases
In May 1987 the AANS Board of Directors adopted the following guidelines to make AANS standards for appropriate testimony by neurosurgeons more specific. They augment, rather than supersede, the 1983 guidelines.
The American legal system requires expert testimony for both plaintiff and defendant. The committee believes it is of central importance that such testimony be truly expert and as impartial as possible.
“Expert” testimony should reflect not only the opinions of the individual but also honestly describe where such opinions vary from common practice. The expert should not present his or her own views as the only correct ones if they differ from what might be done by other neurosurgeons.
An expert should be a surgeon who is still engaged in the active practice of surgery or can demonstrate enough familiarity with present practices to warrant designation as an expert.
The neurosurgeon should champion what he/she believes to be the truth, not the cause of one party or the other.
The neurosurgeon should not accept a contingency fee as an expert witness.
AANS/ JNSPG Publications Bulletin: Issue – 11(1),2002