WHAT IS AN EXPERT WITNESS
Experts are individuals that offer greater knowledge, training, or experience in a subject or profession than the general public. Personal injury attorneys use experts’ professional knowledge and experience about a subject or profession to support their case. Expert witnesses is the title for these sources. Specialized witnesses, not at the accident scene, may testify during a trial due to their proficiency in a subject or field. The role of expert witnesses in personal injury cases is to be professional consultants for court cases regularly. An expert witness is critical in the legal process. Some injury cases may require testimony from an expert witness to move the proceedings forward.
HOW EXPERT WITNESSES ARE USED
During a trial, there are two different types of expert witnesses, a consulting expert and a testifying expert. These experts provide information that is used in different ways during a personal injury trial. Below are two strategies for using expert witnesses.
- A consulting expert provides information for the case but does not testify in court. This provided information helps an attorney understand complexities surrounding the expert’s area of specialization. The clarification from a consulting expert also helps a personal injury lawyer better support their case.
- A testifying expert is brought into the courtroom to testify for the judge and jury. A successful testifying expert has the ability to communicate complex information of their field into an understandable explanation. Although one attorney usually hires a testifying expert, both attorneys have access to the expert’s information.
TYPES OF EXPERT WITNESSES
There are various types of expert witnesses. It is critical to understand the expert witness category needed for a personal injury case. An experienced personal injury lawyer has the ability to select the proper expert necessary, highlighting the importance of partnering with an attorney following an accident. Listed below are the various types of expert witnesses necessary for a personal injury case.
- Accident Reconstruction Experts – Their job is to determine the cause of an accident. An accident reconstruction expert analyzes physical evidence or reviews an accident report to gather information. They may also use models, computer programs, and scientific devices to help determine vehicle speed, force of impact, and causes of injuries.
- Life Care Planner – A life care planner focuses on evaluating an individual’s life following a disability. This evaluation includes disability management, future care expense determination, and income loss calculation. In a life care planner’s testimony, subjects covered include the injury victim’s decreased earning capacity, increased difficulty in fulfilling their job requirements, life expectancy estimation, and quality of life deterioration.
- Vocational Specialist – This expert reviews the type of work the injured party performed in the 15 years prior to the accident and reports on the probability of finding related work following the injury. A vocational specialist also may testify on how the injury affects the victim’s ability to perform specific job types and the effect the injury has on their job market. Most importantly, a vocational specialist demonstrates how much a serious injury has decreased the victim’s earning capacity.
- Mechanical Expert – An engineering or technical expert offers testimony on mechanical devices and systems related to a personal injury accident. In short, they provide technical evidence for a personal injury case. Mechanical experts determine whether an accident was caused by a defect in a product, vehicle, or device and investigate the root of the defect. Examples of equipment or vehicles investigated include cars, trains, trucks, or manufacturing equipment.
- Medical Expert – This expert has been medically educated and trained to identify injuries and the necessary care for injuries. Doctors are the obvious example, but anyone who has studied medicine and has real life experience working with patients following accidents can be considered a medical expert. A medical expert reviews the case facts and answers related medical questions based on the information. Their process may also include assessing the injury victim’s condition to determine current and future medical care.
- Economic Expert – This expert will evaluate an accident injury’s impact on the victim’s financial future. This evaluation includes both present and future financial losses. An economic expert’s assessment may include current medical costs, long-term medical costs, current wage loss, future wage loss, and pain and suffering cost. An economist’s evaluation is usually the most important factor in determining compensation following an accident.
IMPORTANCE OF EXPERT WITNESSES IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES
According to FindLaw, “the Rules of Evidence allow the use of experts to assist the court or jury in technical areas”. Not all cases require expert witnesses. As mentioned above, they are helpful discussing topics such as medicine, construction, and accounting. There are several reasons to involve expert witnesses for both consulting and testifying purposes. While there is a wide range of purposes for using experts, the role of expert witnesses in personal injury cases is critical.
Generally, expert witnesses serve as an objective and educated third-party that introduces facts before or during a trial. Accident reconstruction and mechanical experts analyze the accident scene, which may help determine the cause of an accident or identify the negligent party. Medical experts or vocational specialists explain complex ideas in a manner the jury or courtroom will understand. Life care planners or economic experts offer an educated opinion that is from a reputable source without the personal stake.
ATTORNEYS OFFER ACCESS TO PERSONAL INJURY EXPERT WITNESSES
A big reason to partner with a personal injury attorney is their ability to determine when to involve an expert witness and identify the correct expert witness to use in a case. With over 30 years in business and our 200 years of combined experience, Rand Spear and his law firm, Spear Greenfield has that ability. Spear Greenfield has access to the most reliable and reputable expert witnesses to ensure the best chances of success in your personal injury case! Call us now for a free consultation regarding your personal injury accident.