Medical Testimony, Experts

Depending on the nature of the case (e.g., medical malpractice, trust/will challenges for lack of capacity or undue influence, etc.), medical testimony is often crucial. The qualification of a physician as an expert is generally within the trial court’s substantial discretion. Ponciroli v. Wyrick, 573 S.W.2d 731, 735 (Mo.Ct.App.1978).
Generally, a practicing physician, even when not a psychiatrist, is qualified to give an opinion as to the mental condition of the person he/she has examined and observed. In re Richard, 655 S.W.2d 110, 113 (Mo.Ct.App.1983). The testimony and opinion may be premised upon the expert’s actual observations or come in the form of hypothetical questions. Id.In addition, medical experts are entitled to base their opinions upon the teachings of medical science and are not limited to expressing opinions only upon subjects with which they are familiar thorough observation and experience. Boring v. Kansas City Life Insurance Co., 274 S.W.2d 233, 238 (Mo.1955).
Unsurprisingly, experts can sometimes disagree and presenting conflicting testimony. One expert may completely refute the other. When this happens, it is generally the role of the judge or jury to weigh which expert is more believable and credible. Davolt v. Highland, 119 S.W.3d 118, 127 (Mo.Ct.App.2003).
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