What is an Expert Witness?
Expert Witness Testimony in a Personal Injury Case
When legal disputes involve complex technical or specialized knowledge, one or more expert witnesses may be consulted. Expert witnesses are individuals who possess specialized knowledge, training, or experience in a particular field relevant to a legal case. They provide unbiased, professional opinions and testimony to assist the court in understanding matters that lie beyond the knowledge of the average person. In this article, we will explore the role of expert witnesses, look at some examples, and discuss the impact an expert witness can have on a personal injury case.
When is an Expert Witness Used in a Trial?
Expert witnesses are used in trials when specialized knowledge or expertise is required to clarify complex issues. They are commonly used in cases that involve technical or scientific subjects, such as medical malpractice, intellectual property disputes, construction accidents, product liability, forensic investigations, and more. The presence of an expert witness can help ensure that the court receives accurate and informed opinions on matters beyond the understanding of the average person.
Examples of Expert Witnesses
There are many types of expert witnesses and, often, more than one may be consulted during a complicated case. Some examples of expert witnesses include:
Medical Expert Witness
In personal injury cases, a medical expert witness, such as a doctor, nurse, or forensic specialist, may be called upon to provide an opinion on the extent and cause of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. He or she may be asked to offer a prognosis, or deem whether certain treatments are/were necessary.
Medical expert witnesses are also often called in cases where the victim has pre-existing conditions. They will give an unbiased opinion about whether a condition is new or if a chronic issue was made worse. On the other hand, he or she may also inform a judge if an injury was unlikely to be caused or worsened by the accident.
Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness
These experts specialize in reconstructing accidents and can provide valuable insights into the sequence of events, contributing factors, and negligence in cases such as car accidents or workplace incidents. This can be especially helpful when multiple vehicles were involved or the circumstances were too chaotic for general witness testimony to be reliable.
Forensic Expert Witness
Forensic experts analyze evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, ballistics, or digital data to provide insights into criminal investigations or civil cases.
Engineering Expert Witness
In cases involving structural failures, construction defects, or product liability, an engineering expert witness can provide an opinion on the technical aspects, design flaws, or potential negligence.
Financial Expert Witness
These experts, such as accountants or economists, can provide analysis and opinions on financial matters, including loss of earnings, business valuation, or economic impact in cases of financial disputes.
How Can An Expert Witness Help a Personal Injury Case?
Medical expert witnesses can help in a personal injury case by corroborating the extent of injuries reported by the plaintiff. They can also give an informed opinion on what a future with this type of injury will look like: will further medical care be needed? What is the mental health toll this injury can take? Is someone with this injury able to return to a normal life or resume their current profession?
An expert witness may also help to establish causation in a personal injury case. He or she may provide scientific or technical evidence that proves an injury or injuries were caused by negligent actions on the part of the defendant or defendants.
Finally, an expert witness can help assign a monetary value to certain damages sustained in a personal injury case. For example, they may be asked to help determine the value of future lost wages based on inflation or other variables.
Can an Expert Witness Harm a Personal Injury Case?
In many cases, both parties will have expert witnesses with conveniently (or inconveniently) opposing opinions, which can further complicate things. It will ultimately be up to the jury to decide which expert they find more credible on a particular matter. If they decide the defense expert witness provided clearer or more qualified information, it can have a negative impact on the outcome of a personal injury case.
It will be the responsibility of your legal team to consult with a variety of expert witnesses, as necessary. A good personal injury lawyer will have a trusted network of professionals that have experience at trial and a proven track record of qualified, unbiased testimony.
If you have been injured in the state of Colorado, contact Dave Roth with the Roth Group. Dave is a highly skilled attorney who works tirelessly to support his clients, both in and out of the courtroom. Call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.