By Barbara Haubrich-Hass, ACP/CAS
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to support each element of the allegations claimed, including the proof of injury causation. At a minimum, every personal injury case will require at least a medical expert to testify regarding the plaintiff’s reasonable medical probability that the subject incident was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's injuries.
The case of Schreiber v. Estate of Kiser (1999) 22 Cal.4th 31 is an important case to understand as it relates to designating medical expert witnesses pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §§ 2034.010 – 2034.310. This case highlights the advantage that the plaintiff has in the ability to designate treating physicians as non-retained experts on causation, damages, and standard of case without having to provide an expert declaration disclosing all of the required information for retained experts as outlined in CCP § 2034.260.
In Schreiber, the plaintiff’s attorney designated the plaintiff’s treating physicians as experts, but did not include an expert witness declaration for these experts. The defendant’s attorney argued that these percipient witnesses were going to testify concerning expert matters thereby requiring an expert witness declaration.