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When to Get an Expert Witness

Updated March 8, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

When your personal injury case ends up in front of a judge, jury, or mediator, they will often be reviewing your story against the defendant’s. However, cases can be strengthened or weakened by the discovery of new facts. These facts can be provided by professionals known as expert witnesses.

Expert Witnesses Are Key

Whether an expert witness consults with your attorney before your case goes to court or testifies in the courtroom to educate others, the knowledge of an expert can help you get closer to winning.

An expert witness is a person who testifies at a trial to offer special knowledge or proficiency in a field relevant to a case. They can provide the facts and analysis that is needed in court and to assist your attorney in preparing your case. Appointing an expert witness is can be an important part of many personal injury cases.

When Expert Witnesses Are Used

Expert witnesses tend to be used in cases where certain facts are of dispute. These disputed facts will often rely on scientific, specialized, or technical knowledge beyond what an ordinary person is expected to know or understand. The expert will likely know more about the field than your personal injury attorney will: Your attorney can’t be expected to know everything, so expert witnesses can help attorneys prepare for technical subjects.

Expert witnesses can be used to either provide testimony for your case or as a rebuttal to the defendant’s case. Their expertise can be used in several types of personal injury cases, depending on their specialty and experience:

  • Product liability: An expert witness from the manufacturer can off input regarding the product design and safety, manufacturing practices, and warnings
  • Medical malpractice: A medical professional can answer questions about medical procedures, equipment, medication, medical diagnostics, insurance, safety precautions, and laws
  • Automotive accident cases: An expert mechanic or a detective can answer questions about accident reconstruction, crash analysis, and automotive engineering
  • Construction accident cases: A real estate developer or construction site manager can offer insight into proper use of safety equipment, machinery, and implementation of safety programs and management practices that may have played a role in your accident

Expert witnesses can also be consulted on the matter of damage claims, where they can provide insight into income loss, the effects of inflation on potential damages, the value of goods or services, the permanency of injuries, and other facts that play into the value of a settlement.

As Soon as Possible

You or your personal injury attorney should get in touch with an expert witness as soon as you file your claim. An initial review of your claim might reveal issues that require the knowledge of an expert, such a mechanic or a medical professional. With their help and expertise, you and your attorney will be better able to evaluate the goals of the case and what to expect. In some cases, an expert witness can tell you what your case is worth and how that plays into a legal strategy.

Other Expert Witness Tips

When considering expert witnesses for your case, consider academics, expertise, and experience.  You’ll want someone with a lot of practical, hands-on experience. There are plenty of “career” expert witnesses, but someone who is a real professional in their field is going to appear more credible to a jury than someone who testifies in court for a living. Consider the witness’s past experiences in court, any potential conflicts of interest, and check their cost.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get in touch with an expert witness. The courts don’t wait, and it’s important to get the facts of your case as soon as possible to make sure that your case has the best chance of success.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

A personal injury attorney will know best about what to expect from an expert witness. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW have access to expert witnesses who can support your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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