Expert witnesses play a pivotal role in many personal injury cases. The details of an accident often involve highly specialized areas of knowledge. Expert witnesses serve as guides for the plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, judge, and jury, helping everyone involved to understand these complex or technical fields of expertise. If you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit in Caldwell or Buffalo, TX, your attorney is very likely to make use of expert witnesses while building and arguing your case.
Understanding the Role of Expert Witnesses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
During a personal injury case, an expert witness can explain and clarify a particular aspect within their field of expertise that pertains to the lawsuit. This expert clarification can serve a number of purposes. A consulting expert witness may help the plaintiff and their attorney understand precisely what happened in a particularly complex accident, such as an anesthesia error during a medical procedure or an auto accident with multiple vehicles involved.
The expert can then provide testimony in court, explaining the sequence of events to the judge and jury, thus helping to prove the liability of the at-fault driver. Expert witnesses can also help estimate the value of complex damages the plaintiff is pursuing, such as the long-term costs of treating a catastrophic injury or the damages for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from an injury. The expert could then testify in court about the validity and value of these damages.
Three Types of Expert Witness Testimony
Either plaintiff or defendant may use expert witness testimony during a jury trial. There are two primary ways expert witnesses are used in court. The first is to provide factual testimony, whereby the expert explains the relevant topic to the judge and jury. Factual testimony is especially common in car accident cases, medical malpractice cases, and premises liability cases.
Expert witnesses are also permitted to offer their opinion in court. More specifically, they’re allowed to use the scientific method to make inferences: derive a conclusion by clear reasoning that the judge and jury can follow. This is often useful in proving the liability of the at-fault party, and also the value of damages. The defendant may likewise use expert witnesses to refute the plaintiff’s claims of liability and damages.
Common Types of Expert Witnesses
The best way to gain a clear understanding of the use of expert witnesses is to look at some common examples. Note that the following instances are common but by no means comprehensive: there are as many different types of expert witnesses as there are types of accidents and injuries.
Accident Reconstruction Experts
Whenever liability is disputed in an auto accident claim, an accident reconstruction expert may help to prove the other driver’s fault. Using computer programs, 3D models, timelines, and other visual aids, the expert can show the jury the exact sequence of events that occurred in a crash.
Accident reconstruction experts may also help prove how your injury was caused during the accident. They can scrutinize photos and videos of the accident scene, examine the crash site, and use scientific devices to determine vehicle speeds, impact force, and other important factors.
Highway Safety Experts
If your attorney believes that the road conditions, road design, or traffic conditions contributed to the accident, a highway safety or engineering expert may be retained. These experts can establish if the local council or whichever organization is responsible for the roads are somehow liable for your injuries.
Specialist Medical Experts
As so many areas of modern medicine are highly specialist, plaintiffs are required by law to use medical expert witnesses to help prove their claims. Proving that the doctor acted negligently is often difficult in medical malpractice because the error that caused your injury may have been due to bad luck rather than negligence. An expert medical witness can help establish if and how negligence occurred and explain it in court.
Medical experts may include surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, obstetricians, diagnosticians, or any other specialist physician. The medical expert must specialize in a similar field to the defendant and must still be actively practicing or teaching medicine in that field. Medical expert witnesses can also help the plaintiff calculate and prove damages for the future treatment costs of long-term or permanent injuries.
Vocational Rehabilitation Experts
Serious workplace injury cases and any other personal injury lawsuits where the injured victim has suffered a reduced capacity to work and earn a living may require the use of a vocational rehabilitation expert. These experts can testify about how physical or psychological impairments have reduced the victim’s ability to perform the same work-related tasks as before.
For any financial issues involved in a case, an economic expert or forensic accountant expert may be called on to crunch the numbers. Plaintiffs with complex income structures may use an economic expert to prove the value of their lost income damages. Economic experts may also help to estimate and prove the total future costs of medical bills and lost income, adjusted for probable inflation.
Mental Health Experts
After suffering an injury, the injured victim may suffer from non-economic losses such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or panic attacks. These non-economic damages lack a clear objective price tag, so mental health experts such as therapists or clinical psychologists may be called in to help evaluate the suitable monetary value of the psychological harm caused, and then testify about it in court.
Building Safety Experts
Premises liability and workplace injury cases frequently require building safety experts or structural engineering experts to illustrate how hazardous conditions caused the accident. These experts might even reconstruct the accident to demonstrate how the accident caused the plaintiff’s injury. Local building safety experts also have a thorough understanding of the region’s building safety codes and can prove how the property owner was in violation of those codes.
Product liability lawsuits may require a manufacturing expert or product design expert to clarify how the plaintiff was injured by the defendant’s product. Manufacturing experts may also help unravel the liability complexities frequently involved in product liability cases, such as which specific party along the chain of a product’s production and dissemination was responsible for making the product unsafe.
Finding Expert Witnesses in Buffalo or Caldwell, TX
Without the guidance of an experienced local personal injury lawyer, it can be difficult to know which expert witnesses to use or how to find them. In helping many clients, personal injury lawyers build up networks of expert witnesses, and one of the many benefits of hiring an attorney is the access you gain to their expert witness database.
Therefore, the surest way to find the right expert witnesses to consult and testify in your lawsuit is to choose the right lawyer to represent you. The right attorney can investigate your accident, calculate your damages, gather evidence to build a rock-solid case, defend your rights in court, and retain the right expert witnesses to help with every stage of the litigation process.
If you need an experienced personal injury lawyer in Caldwell, TX, Buffalo, TX, or anywhere else in Texas, contact Brian C. Gutierrez at (979) 364-5346 for a free consultation. As an award-winning trial attorney, Brian can help you achieve the full financial compensation you deserve.