In Personal Injury Actions Treating Physicians Not Entitled To Expert Witness Fees, Sort Of

In the recent decision of Sanchez v Gama, the Arizona’s Division One overturned what some consider a long standing custom allowing treating physicians in a personal injury action to require payment of professional fees when testifying.  That is, if either party calls the treating physician to testify regarding the physicians opinion formed during Plaintiff’s treatment, the physician is not entitled to expert witness fees.  However, should the physician testify regarding his/her opinion formed later, such as reviewing other providers’ records, then the physician is entitled to recover expert witness fees.

The question is how will this ruling effect the ability and willingness of physicians to take on patients who were injured due to the negligence of another.  While the Plaintiff may not have to pay expert fees to his/her treating physician, physicians maybe unwilling to take on the potential “burden” of having to testify without compensation for their time away from their practice.