The Importance of an Expert Witness in Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff or injured accident victim. The victim must use clear and convincing evidence to prove the claim he or she is making against an accused party (defendant) is more likely to be true than not true. This is known as a preponderance of the evidence. Expert witness testimony can prove an invaluable type of evidence, helping a victim meet the burden of proof.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is someone hired to testify or give a statement during a personal injury case due to specialized knowledge, training or experience as a professional in a field that is relevant to the accident or injury. Expert witnesses can provide testimony during a legal proceeding that may help a judge or jury understand the facts of the case. Experts are commonly used in personal injury cases that involve complicated issues that the average person might not understand, or specialized areas of focus that require further explanation.
The Role of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
Expert witnesses provide unbiased opinions and information that can help a victim establish liability (legal and financial responsibility) for damages caused by a preventable accident. For example, in a car accident case, expert witnesses might be used by the plaintiff’s attorney to reconstruct how the crash must have occurred based on evidence such as property damage. In this example, an expert witness such as a crash reconstructionist could provide testimony as to why the evidence points to the defendant being at fault for a vehicle collision.
Expert witnesses can also be used to help a plaintiff prove his or her damages, or compensable losses caused by the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act. Expert witnesses with credentials in the medical field or finance could assist in establishing losses connected to an injury, such as future foreseeable medical costs or reduced quality of life the victim will experience because of a serious injury. Expertise in the necessary treatment and care associated with a specific injury could help a plaintiff seek fair compensation for current and future medical bills.
Finally, expert witnesses can lend credibility to a personal injury case. The right expert witnesses are highly respected professionals in their fields. This means their opinions and testimonies will carry greater weight with the courts. Hiring a strong expert witness can be especially important in a case that does not have a lot of physical evidence.
Common Types of Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses may be brought in to testify regarding the victim’s injuries, appropriate treatment plans, prognosis for recovery, the mechanics of the accident, accident reconstruction, financial matters, and more. Common examples of expert witnesses in a personal injury case are medical experts, doctors, surgeons, psychologists, highway safety experts, car accident reconstructionists, impact analysts, social workers, economic experts, forensic accountants, life care planners and manufacturing experts.
How to Hire an Expert Witness for Your Personal Injury Case
If you believe your personal injury case could benefit from an expert witness, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance. A lawyer will have connections to highly qualified experts who can testify during your claim. Your lawyer will assess your case and help you understand which expert witnesses, if any, could be important to hire based on the circumstances.
If your lawyer believes hiring an expert witness is in your best interest, he or she can do this for you, as well as work with the expert for the most efficient and effective personal injury claims process possible.