The Role of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Evidence is crucial in establishing liability and damages in personal injury lawsuits. Documented proof, such as medical records and accident reports, can help validate claims and paint a clear picture of the incident and the resulting damages.
Expert testimony is one of the most important forms of evidence in personal injury lawsuits. Testimonies given by expert witnesses can add significant value to a case by providing specialized knowledge and objective insight, which are instrumental in guiding jurors and judges toward an informed resolution.
Expert witnesses are instrumental in clarifying complex information, demonstrating the severity of the injury, and affirming claims of financial losses. The testimonies of witnesses can affect the outcome of a case and play a significant role in achieving the best possible outcome for the injured party.
What is an Expert Witness?
A personal injury expert witness is a person who is called to offer information relating to their area of specialization. Although they are classified as witnesses, they are usually not directly involved in the case to which they are called to testify and cannot provide eyewitness testimony. Instead, their testimony is based on their training, experience, or acquired knowledge.
However, not just any practitioner of a specific field can be called an expert witness. They must first meet several qualifications defined in Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
According to the Legal Information Institute, a qualified witness must:
Actively engage in the relevant profession or field about the case or particular evidence in question on a regular basis.
Be a true expert in their field by possessing scientific, technical, or scientific knowledge that can aid the trier of fact in understanding and proving an important fact in a case.
Possess testimony grounded on relevant facts and data, ensuring credibility and validity of their statements.
Demonstrate that their testimony is derived from dependable principles and methods and apply them to the specific facts of the case.
What Types of Experts Can Be Used in Personal Injury Cases?
In a personal injury lawsuit, several types of expert witnesses can be tapped in a consulting or testifying capacity to give clarity and bolster the strength of a case. Some of the most commonly sought-after personal injury expert witnesses are listed below:
Medical Experts: Doctors, specialists, or physical therapists who can examine the patient and review medical records to determine the full extent of an injury and its impact.
Accident Reconstructionists: These experts use scientific devices, computer software, and models to recreate the accident and explain how it resulted in the injury.
Economists: In establishing damages, expert witness accounts from economic experts can help assess the financial impact of the injury. They can examine current and expected medical costs for the treatment of the injury as well as the financial losses incurred due to the inability to work after the accident.
Vocational Rehabilitation Experts: A personal injury expert involved in vocational rehabilitation can offer information about the type of work the injured party will be able to perform after the accident. These can include the physical and mental limitations placed by the injury, which can hinder their ability to perform specific tasks, resulting in a diminished capacity to earn a living wage.
Highway Safety Expert: An expert on highway safety can offer insight into the road conditions that contributed to or directly led to the accident. Their expertise is particularly sought in cases involving cars, motorcycles, and trucks.
Engineers: Similar to highway safety experts, engineers can provide a technical analysis of the accident by shedding light on issues like mechanical failure and structural defects.
Mental Health Professionals: These can be psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, or therapists who can offer an opinion about the emotional or psychological distress caused by the accident.
What is the Role of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Expert witnesses are classified based on the strategy in which they are used during trial and the type of information they provide:
Consulting experts provide information that can help attorneys understand the complexities within the expert’s field of specialization and help them support their case.
Testifying experts are brought to court to provide testimony in front of a judge and jury to provide information that validates or refutes the validity or relevance of a key piece of evidence. They can also clarify topics and concepts to make them easier for the judge and jury to understand.
Although only one party hires the services of the testifying expert, the information they provide is accessible to both parties throughout the trial.
Both classifications of expert witnesses are highly sought after in personal injury lawsuits because they can be valuable assets to the prosecution as well as the defense by:
Establishing a standard of care
Proving the extent of injuries
Estimating short- and long-term medical costs and life care needs
Assessing lost wages and earning capacity
Verifying the defendant’s liability
How Littlejohn Law LLC Can Assist in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson understands the complexities involved in personal injury lawsuits and filing a claim. He works tirelessly to provide clients with skilled representation and compassionate support by working with the relevant expert witnesses to ensure the best possible outcome for cases and get the justice clients deserve.
Work with a capable personal injury lawyer who will fight for you. Contact Littlejohn Law LLC for personalized guidance and a free consultation today!