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Personal Injury: Chiropractors as expert medical witnesses in Court trials

The Floyd Law Firm PC > Information > Personal Injury: Chiropractors as expert medical witnesses in Court trials
Personal Injury: Chiropractors as expert medical witnesses in Court trials

In 1978, Dalton B. Floyd, Jr. had a case before the South Carolina Supreme Court, Daniels v. Bernard, which was an appeal from a jury trial verdict he obtained representing the Plaintiff in Williamsburg County. The interesting part of the case is at that time, there were no cases that held in S.C. that a Chiropractor, Dr. I.W Canupp, could testify in court as an expert or medical witness like any other Doctor – and the Defendant objected to his testimony when he was put on the stand as an expert medical witness.

The Judge overruled his objection and allowed the Chiropractor to testify. The Defendant appealed the case to the S.C. Supreme Court and the Court ruled with Mr. Floyd – holding for the first time that a Chiropractor could be used as an expert or medical witness in a Court trial.

“The rule generally followed in other jurisdictions is that, “A chiropractor is competent to testify as an expert or medical witness concerning matters within the scope of the profession and practice of chiropractic. Where the proper foundation is laid and the matter is within the scope of the profession of practice of chiropractic, a chiropractor is competent to express his opinion as to the nature and extent of injuries to portions of the human body to which the chiropractic segment of medical science relates, as to the probable cause of an injury to, or the physical condition or death of, a person, and as to the probable effects and duration, permanence, future medical requirements, or the like, in connection with an injury to or the physical condition of an  injured person. A chiropractor is also competent in a personal injury action to interpret an X-ray photograph relating to the injury to or the physical condition of the injured person, where it is properly connected and identified, the witness is qualified or familiar with the use of X-ray photographs, and the subject matter thereof relates to the profession or practice of chiropractic.” 31 Am. Jur.2d, Expert and Opinion Evidence, § 107; see, also, 52 A.L.R.2d 1384.

“We approve of the foregoing statement and hold that Dr. Canupp’s testimony was competent and within the scope of the practice of chiropractic as defined by statute. See Code § 40-9-10, as amended (Supp. 1977).”

The term chiropractic originates from two Greek words that together, mean “hands-on care”. It is a manual method of treatment that has stems reaching throughout history, but became better known in the United States during the early nineteenth century. The manually applied care of chiropractic medicine focuses on the patient’s bones, joints, muscles – and how the body is aligned or misaligned. Chiropractors do not perform surgery nor do they prescribe drugs – the treatment possibilities are centered upon the way each body part works together as a whole. Because of this patient-centered method of treatment, chiropractors are often more likely to sense their patient’s stress levels, pain reception, and overall mental wellbeing due to spending more time with each individual. From treating sore backs to preventing painful pinched nerves, additional symptoms are often alleviated as well. Chiropractors have been found helpful when it comes to many chronic disorders such as poor posture, headaches, neck pain, certain allergies, and even some breathing problems.

Medically, modern studies and collected data suggest that chiropractic treatment within the initial six to ten weeks after an accident or car wreck may be more effective for treating ligament strains, sprains, and muscle pain than only seeking orthopedic care or simply taking medications. When there are no actual broken bones or need for intervention via surgery, chiropractic care can be an effective option and has been proven helpful over the long term.

Chiropractors are often more accessible than typical medical doctors and play an important role for many individuals recovering from many types of personal injury. As it is common for people in general to have opinions about any topic – positive or negative views based upon their own experiences or based upon something that they have been told – and everyone’s opinion about chiropractic care is no different. It is important to note that not everyone is perfect in their role whether they are a chef, a teacher, a doctor, an attorney, or a chiropractor – but it’s safe to assume that someone who has been performing their job over many years, possesses the proper credentials, and has gained positive personal references is doing their job quite well and effectively.

Chiropractic physicians have been an important and educated aspect of personal injury healing and maintenance. In the realm of legal practice, there are advantages and disadvantages of using chiropractors as expert witnesses. In a legal defense practice, chiropractors can be seen as key supporting guides regarding an injured person’s spinal or structural internal damage. Besides the plaintiff, a chiropractor can offer some of the most detailed and documented testimony as they will often show the actual x rays and medical reports.

Overall, there are advantages in working with a chiropractor, both for our injured clients and ourselves as their attorneys.

Chiropractors are an important part of the rehabilitation process for those who have been injured — also proving to be a valuable asset in the courtroom.

Prior to 1978, there was no precedent in South Carolina that held a Chiropractor could testify as an expert in court. Dalton B. Floyd, Jr., took the case to the SC Supreme Court (Daniels v. Bernard), which held—for the first time—that a Chiropractor could testify as an expert medical witness.

At The Floyd Law Firm PC, our personal injury lawyers are committed to helping those who have been injured. We know the challenges that people face in such situations and we understand how to secure the compensation they need to help get them through.

With more than 100 years of combined experience, our firm can address your specific situation with empathy and professionalism. Our firm was one of the first in Surfside Beach, and our focus is on ensuring that we obtain the full compensation you deserve for all of the ways that your injury has affected your life.


Daniels V. Bernard, 270 S.C. 51, 240 S.E. 2nd518



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