An expert witness can play a key role in proving liability and damages in a personal injury case. Experts are people who possess special knowledge, experience, skills, or training that extends beyond that of the general population. When you’ve been injured in an accident, have lost a loved one to wrongful death, or are claiming nursing home abuse, getting the parties responsible for your damages to pay isn’t always a simple matter.
Filing any type of personal injury claim requires that there be an allegation of liability. In essence, who is at fault for your injuries? You not only have to prove negligence but also that those actions, or the failure to act, was the cause of your injuries. In both cases, the testimony of expert witnesses can be used to prove liability as well as testify about the severity of the injury and its far-reaching consequences.
Who Can Qualify as an Expert Witness?
There are several types of witnesses in an injury case. An eyewitness is someone who was present at the time of the accident and has direct knowledge of the events. An “expert” witness wasn’t an accident witness, but instead is someone who might be hired by your attorney to assist in proving your case.
Experts by their nature are generally professionals who have knowledge, skills, or training that qualifies them to provide testimony or give a reliable opinion on certain issues. For example, a physician may be asked to testify about the severity of your injuries in an auto accident or premises liability case.
The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case
Just because an expert is hired for your injury case, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see them sitting before a jury giving sworn testimony. These are qualified individuals who will use their specialized knowledge to help prove different elements of your case. The two ways that you might see these experts used are:
- Consulting Experts. A consulting expert provides support services to your attorney’s legal team. They might assist through reviewing documents, offering advice, and helping with strategy related to financial, medical, and other technical issues.
- Testifying Experts. A testifying expert may perform some of the above tasks, but they will also be called by your attorney as a witness in your case. Their sworn testimony could help prove fault, explain complicated terms, or make a case for certain damages.
Different Types of Expert Witnesses
Depending on the details of your accident and what areas may be disputed, different types of experts may be used in an injury case. Some of those include:
- Medical Professionals. Medical professionals such as physicians, medical examiners, and rehabilitation specialists are often called as expert witnesses to provide testimony about the seriousness of an injury, its cause, and the need for future care.
- Accident Reconstruction Specialists. An accident reconstruction specialist might be hired to help prove negligence in a variety of personal injury cases. When there is an auto or truck accident case, these specialists can testify about vehicle safety, speed, right-of-way, and other errors that could have caused the accident and injuries.
- Financial Specialists. If your damages include lost income and permanent impairment, a financial expert could be called to help prove the severity of your financial losses.
- Maintenance Specialists. When a mechanical failure either caused or contributed to an accident, a maintenance specialist can provide valuable testimony that describes vehicle upkeep and the ways that a failure to maintain a vehicle created a hazard.
- Phone Records Specialist. Because so many auto accidents now involve distracted driving, your attorney may hire a phone records specialist to prove that the other driver was texting or using their cell phone when the accident took place.
Expert witnesses can often make a significant difference in an injury case, particularly if there is a question of fault or the seriousness of damages. The experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Peake & Fowler often use the services of these valuable experts to help prove our client’s case. If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury, contact our Columbia, South Carolina office today at (803) 788-4370 or online for a free consultation to discuss your case.