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J Forensic Dent Sci. 2018 Jan-Apr;10(1):8-17. doi: 10.4103/jfo.jfds_104_17.

Under the lens: Dental expert witnesses in Brazil, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

Author information

1
Assistant Professor and Forensic Odontologist, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
2
Full Professor in Paediatric and Preventive Dentistry, School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb, Croatia.
3
Forensic Odontologist, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
4
Forensic Pathologist, Sentra Medika Hospital, Cibinong, Indonesia.
5
Forensic Odontologist, Merseyside, UK.
6
Forensic Odontologist, Bari, Italy.

Abstract

The dentists' main job is to restore health and function to the oral cavity. However, dental professionals can also be involved in medico legal activities as forensic odontologists or by being Expert Witnesses (EW) to testify in professional liability cases, car accidents and work-related injuries. When called to act as an expert witness by the Court, the appointed dentist has to combine both biological and technical knowledge with equivalent medico-legal and forensic knowledge. Spontaneous involvement in medico-legal matters without an adequate training and experience can lead to mistakes with irreversible consequences. As an expert witness, the dentist has precise responsibility with civil and/or penal consequences, depending on the national judicial system. Dental Expert Witness, working either privately or appointed by the Court, has defined responsibilities and is subjected to civil or criminal proceedings (depending on the judicial system) if found wanting. Keeping in mind that there are significant differences regarding the requirements of becoming eligible to be a Dental Expert Witness in different legal systems. In this work the authors investigated the Judicial Systems regarding the appointment of Dental Expert Witnesses in Brazil, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom (Table 1), in order to marshal knowledge towards harmonization and the attainment of best practice. This premise acknowledges the fact that forensic odontology must encompass the necessity for robust systems of audit and accreditation for it to be accepted as an "evidence based" forensic discipline. Further steps to ensure quality assurance in legal dentistry and forensic odontology training should be considered to prevent the spontaneous involvement of inappropriately trained dentists to become involved in making decisions that are beyond their competence and expertise.

KEYWORDS:

Dental damage evaluation; dental law; expert witness; forensic odontology

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