The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case
Personal injury cases can be complex and challenging to pursue. In order to prove your case, you must show that the party responsible for your injuries owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and that the breach was the proximate cause of your injuries. On top of that, you also need to establish the severity of your injury and that you suffered recoverable damages.
There are various forms of evidence used to prove an injury case; these may include the accident report, medical records, photographs of the accident scene, photographs of your injuries, statements of witnesses, and expert witness statements. While all types of evidence are important, the statements/testimony from expert witnesses can often be a deciding factor in the success of an injury case.
Who Can Be an Expert Witness?
Expert witnesses should not be confused with eyewitnesses. An eyewitness is someone who was at the scene of the incident, saw what happened, and has first-hand knowledge of the event. An expert witness is almost always someone who did not witness the event, but they are allowed to testify because they are able to provide an expert perspective that can help clarify various information in the case.
Experts have a specific area of specialty, and their testimony regarding certain aspects of the case (in which they have expertise) is more reputable and more detailed than an average layperson who is involved in a case. Experts are professionals who hold themselves to higher ethical standards. For this reason, their testimony on a particular subject is usually considered highly credible.
The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case
Experts are not always called to testify in an injury case. Many cases are settled before they ever go to trial, and an expert can play a major role in securing a favorable settlement for the injured party. For example, experts often serve as consultants who work closely with the attorney’s legal team to review documents, explain key facts in a case, and provide other types of support. In some cases, having reputable experts on the legal team as consultants can be enough to compel the other side to settle rather than going to trial.
A testifying expert is a professional who is called to testify in court. Testifying experts typically have strong communication skills and are able to deliver information in a way that is easily understood by both the judge and jury.
One major difference between a consulting expert and a testifying expert is the discoverability of the information they provide. A consulting expert works behind the scenes, and the information he/she provides is not discoverable. The information provided by a testifying expert can be discovered by the other side, which means the defense has the opportunity to prepare a rebuttal.
The Types of Experts Used in Injury Cases
There are several different types of experts that can provide important information in an injury case. These include:
- Medical Professionals: Doctors, medical examiners, and other health care professionals are among the most important types of experts used in injury cases. A medical professional can speak credibly to the cause and severity of the injury and what the expected outcome will be for the injured party.
- Accident Reconstruction Experts: Often, one of the most challenging aspects of an injury case is proving how it occurred and thus, who is responsible. This is where an accident reconstructionist comes into play. They are able to thoroughly investigate the incident and reconstruct it piece by piece to show exactly what happened.
- Mental Health Professionals: If you have suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, or psychological harm from your injuries, a mental health specialist will be able to testify regarding how the injury has impacted you and its likely future impact.
- Economic Experts: In an injury case, the incident impacts the victim’s future earning ability. Financial specialists are able to explain this part of the case in detail, including important issues such as the value of future wages the victim would have earned but for the injury.
- Manufacturing Experts: Design and manufacturing specialists can be helpful in product liability cases in which a product or design defect was the cause of the injury.
- Other Specialists: Other professionals who have specific expertise may be called to testify. These may include engineering experts, maintenance experts, phone records specialists, and many others.
Speak with a Seasoned Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer
When there are disputes about the facts and evidence in an injury case, expert witnesses can be critical in clarifying these issues and helping secure just compensation for injury victims. At Whibbs Stone & Barnett, we have over 60 years of combined experience, and we have established relationships with top experts in many fields whom we routinely call on (when needed) to help bolster our case.
If you or someone close to you has suffered injury due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, contact our office today at 1-888-219-4561 for a free consultation.