Have you ever wondered how much an expert can swing the decision of a case? It is substantial and happens often in personal injury cases.
When you’ve been injured and suffered losses through no fault of your own, it would be nice if the negligent party took responsibility and paid what is fair. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Most personal injury cases involve contentious battles over two issues. First, there is the matter of who caused the accident, and second, you may be asked to prove the severity of your injuries or losses. In both instances, your attorney may enlist the services of expert witnesses.
What is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness should not be confused with someone who was present when the accident occurred and has firsthand knowledge of the events. Those are witnesses and may testify during your case to give an objective statement about the events surrounding the accident.
An expert witness is someone who wasn’t necessarily at the accident scene but who can help your case in other ways. These “experts” have specialized knowledge in different fields that is considered beyond that of an average person. Expert witnesses may have professional experience or education that qualifies them as an authority in an area.
The Role of Expert Witnesses in an Injury Case
In personal injury cases, expert witnesses are used to help clarify certain contested issues such as negligence or the level of damages. How expert witness testimony is used in a case may vary, as some of these witnesses are brought in as consulting experts while others are testifying experts.
A consulting expert may be enlisted to explain key facts and issues involved in the case, but they will not testify in court. In contrast, a testifying expert will give expert testimony in front a judge or jury. For this reason, it is vital that this person have effective communication skills.
Different Types of Expert Witnesses
Many types of expert witnesses may be called upon to help clarify facts and prove certain details about your case. Some of the most common types of personal injury case expert witnesses include:
- Accident Reconstruction Experts. The most commonly used expert, an accident reconstruction specialist will use engineering principles to outline how the accident occurred as well as determine the most probable cause of the crash. They will consider factors such as road conditions, the weight and size of vehicles, the damages sustained, and reports received from law enforcement to make their conclusions.
- Medical Experts. If you have suffered serious injury in an accident, a medical professional may be called as an expert to provide evidence about the cause and extent of your injuries. This is particularly the case if there is concern about any pre-existing conditions. An expert can speak to the most probable cause of your pain and current condition as well as the need for future medical care. Much of their conclusions may be based on a review of your medical records.
- Financial Experts. When cases involve the potential for significant financial losses, there will surely be resistance to a large settlement from the insurance company, even when fault has been established. An economic loss expert can help prove financial losses by quantifying such things as lost earning capacity, future medical costs, and permanent impairment.
- Mental Health Experts. If you have suffered emotional or psychological harm due to an accident, the testimony of a psychologist or other mental health expert may be useful in speaking to the way this will impact your life. These experts can help prove noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
- Design or Manufacturing Experts. If you were injured because of a defective product or design defect, an appropriate expert witness will be vital to proving your case. These experts can help verify whether there was, in fact, something wrong with the product that led to your injuries.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney
When any facts surrounding your accident are in dispute, using the services of an expert witness may help prove your case. An experienced Alabama personal injury attorney will not only do everything necessary to protect your rights but will also outline your options and work to secure you the highest possible settlement.
At Burge & Burge, PC, our Alabama personal injury lawyers have successfully helped accident victims and their families throughout the Birmingham area. Contact our office today at 205-251-9000 or online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.