Creating a clear picture of an auto accident for a judge or jury is not as easy as it sounds. In some cases, attorneys utilize expert witnesses to help them convey particular information during a trial. An expert witness can offer critical information to support your claim.
Expert witnesses can testify to multiple different elements of a car accident case, from the factors that caused the crash to the permanent consequences of your injuries. Even though expert witness testimony carries the same weight as testimony from lay witnesses, many people put more credit into opinions from people they see as professionals in a particular industry.
A seasoned injury lawyer can review the details of your auto accident and determine if an expert witness will add value to your case presentation. While some cases do not need expert testimony, others may require testimony from multiple experts.
Contact a lawyer at Henderson Law to discuss your auto accident claim and the possibility of using an expert witness to testify in your trial.
What Is an Expert Witness?
In California, a person can testify as an expert witness if they have, “special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify [them] as an expert,” on the subject their testimony relates to. Expert witnesses help attorneys explain complex information to jurors in a simplified way. Expert witness qualifications include:
- Formal education,
- Practical experience,
- Teaching experience,
- Prior expert witness experience,
- Membership in professional organizations, and
- Recognition for work in their field.
An expert witness adds value to a case by helping the fact finder come to a conclusion using their expertise. In other words, the expert witness provides information that is new and not obvious to the average juror.
An attorney will carefully review the credentials and opinions of every expert witness they utilize because the opposing party’s lawyer can cross-examine them about their qualifications, their testimony, and the basis for their testimony.
How Does a Court Decide Whether Expert Testimony Is Allowed?
The trial court can exclude expert testimony if it is based on:
- Matters on which an expert may not reasonably rely,
- Reasons unsupported by the expert’s materials, or
In other words, an expert witness cannot base their opinion on facts that are speculative or are not supported by reliable evidence.
If the opposing party tries to use an expert witness who lacks the adequate knowledge or experience, an attorney can challenge their qualifications before trial, outside the presence of the jury.
When Are Expert Witnesses Useful in Auto Accident Claims?
Expert witnesses can typically offer information and provide education to jurors in a more understandable way than attorneys. The attorney who calls the expert witness to testify is required to show the expert’s necessary special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.
An expert witness can come in handy when a car accident victim suffers complex, life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash. The expert witness can use their knowledge and experience to provide the jury with a clear image of those injuries and how they occurred.
Types of Legal Expert Witnesses
You are not required to use an expert witness when you try to prove your case. However, an expert witness can strengthen your car accident claim and increase the value of your settlement.
Medical Expert Witness
Car accidents can inflict devastating injuries that require extensive medical treatment. Some injuries can leave the victim unable to return to their job and earn money. An auto accident claim helps you recover these losses. A medical expert can examine your medical records on the stand and explain the severity of your injuries and your chances of making a recovery.
The medical expert can also provide testimony about whether the injury resulted from the car accident caused by the opposing party.
An accident reconstructionist can create a diagram to show the jury what happened during the auto accident and demonstrate how the opposing party’s actions caused the crash. A three-dimensional picture can give jurors a better idea of how the accident occurred.
The accident reconstructionist can also calculate the speed of the opposing party at the time of the crash, which can factor into whether they caused the accident.
Economic Expert Witness
In an auto accident claim, you can sometimes recover noneconomic damages like pain and suffering or mental anguish. An economic expert can help assign a dollar value to these abstract losses. Additionally, they can help you calculate the fair value of your future damages, not just the losses you suffer right after the collision. For example, they will compile the wages you lost while you were injured and the value of the loss of your earning capacity.
Manufacturing Expert Witness
In some car accidents, a product defect can alter the vehicle’s movement, causing the subsequent accident. A manufacturing expert can provide testimony about the defective product or defective manufacturing of the vehicle and how the defect caused the collision.
Contact a Trusted Injury Lawyer to Discuss How an Expert Witness Can Help Prove Your Car Accident Claim
An experienced injury lawyer knows when an expert witness can provide informative, valuable, and simplified testimony that will make a difference in your trial.
Our founding attorney, Michael Henderson, has more than twenty-five years of experience representing the rights of individuals injured by another person’s negligence. Michael was twice recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers Association and graduated in the top 2% of his law school class. Additionally, Michael is rated as a “10.0 Top Attorney” on the national U.S. lawyer service AVVO. Michael is motivated by his desire to help those who suffer personal injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an auto accident, our team at Henderson Law can determine whether an expert witness can help you. Contact our office today so we can put our resources and expertise to work for you.