If your personal injury claim involves complex evidence, you could benefit from having an expert witness speak at your trial. Depending on the circumstances surrounding you claim, you lawyer will be able to find the right witness to support your claim and help you prove negligence on behalf of the opposing party. If your lawyers suggests an expert witness, you’ll benefit from understanding the role and advantages of an expert witness, the types of witnesses that could support your case, and how the selection process works.
Why Are Expert Witnesses Important?
Even if the facts of your case seem straightforward to you, there could be complexities that make it difficult to receive full and fair compensation when your case is presented to a judge or jury. An expert witness can testify on your behalf to provide specific technical knowledge about you case. While, unlike a standard witness, the expert did not see the accident happen, they are allowed to testify because they have the ability to add important information to the claim based on their experience and knowledge. This can help cases resolve faster and ensure the proper amount of compensation is awarded.
Understanding the Types of Expert Witnesses
There are two broad classifications of witnesses – consulting witnesses and testifying experts. A consulting witness is able to help explain the facts of a case. These individuals, however, do not testify in court. A testifying expert provides testimony in front of a judge or jury. For a personal injury case, it’s likely you’ll be looking for a testifying expert who fits into one of the following categories:
- Medical Expert. This person will be able to testify about the nature of a plaintiff’s injuries, in order to prove that the defendant caused them. They may conduct an official examination or simply review their medical file.
- Accident Reconstruction Expert. It can be difficult, in some situations, to determine how an accident happened. An accident reconstructionist can piece together the specifics of an event to determine a timeline.
- Mental Health Expert. Similar to a medical expert, a mental health expert can evaluate the mental state of the plaintiff and determine how the accident affected their psyche. This can be used to calculate pain and suffering damages.
- Engineering Expert. When there are questions regarding a defective vehicle or medical device, an engineering expert can explain what happened and why.
- Financial Expert. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you might need a financial expert to calculate how much you’re owed.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Expert. If you were seriously injured in an accident and there are questions regarding your ability to be gainfully employed this type of expert can give insights into future work prospects.
How Do You Choose an Expert Witness for a Personal Injury Trial?
Choosing the right expert witness for you case can improve your chances of receiving full and fair compensation. In general, there are guidelines your lawyer will abide by when choosing the right person to support your claim.
First, it’s important to make sure the person you’re selecting has the proper credentials. The expert should have expertise in their field and a history related to the specifics of your case. To exemplify their credibility, it will help if they have degrees from reputable schools, are involved in relevant professional or academic organizations, and have publications in trusted journals related to what you’re having them testify about.
Your lawyer will also need to verify there is no conflict of interest. The opposing party will look for reasons to discredit your witness, so it’s important for them to have credibility, integrity, and objectivity. If there’s the chance of any potential scandals in the expert’s past, they could be brought up during the trial. You lawyer will need to conduct a thorough background check to ensure the witness won’t harm your case.
Once you lawyer has found a potential expert witness, they’ll want to interview them in-person to learn about their presence. This will give your attorney an idea of what the person will be like on the stand at trial. The expert will also want to be able to think on their feet, so they can quickly answer unexpected questions from the opposing party. Finally, you’ll want to ensure your expert believes in your case and is willing to defend their position.
Even though many personal injury cases settle without going to trial, you’ll want a strong legal team by your side to protect your legal rights and get you the compensation you deserve. If your case does go to trial, the lawyers at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC have connections to expert witnesses that can strengthen your case. If your considering taking legal action against a negligent person or entity that injured you, schedule a free case evaluation with our law firm today. We’ll explain your options and help you determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances.