Updated April 29, 2019
You might think that a lot of court cases are just disputes between a defendant and a plaintiff. However, in addition to opinions, there are facts about the cases that need to be fairly represented in order for a settlement to be reached. Both sides of a personal injury case will use expert witnesses.
An expert witness is a type of professional consultant that serves as a witness for court cases on a regular basis. The expert witness will have a great deal of professional experience or will have specific knowledge about a subject and can support the case by supplying and proving facts that the general public otherwise wouldn’t know. They need to be hired by an attorney in order to make their statements, and attorneys can use expert witnesses in many different ways.
There are two different types of expert witnesses: a consulting expert and a testifying expert. These experts provide similar information, but what sets them apart is how the information is used.
Expert witnesses can fill both roles, often by consulting privately with an attorney and then presenting the relevant information in the courtroom during trial.
A consulting expert is someone who doesn’t testify in court. Consulting experts still provide information for the case. While attorneys are seasoned at their specialized area of law, they do require that more complex issues be explained by an expert for reinforcement. Consulting attorneys, therefore, help explain and clarify facts for an attorney so that they understand how to support their case.
A testifying expert is someone who delivers a testimony in the courtroom for the judge and jury. Testifying experts know how to deliver expert information in a way that’s understandable to those who are not experts.
Unlike a consulting expert, a testifying expert’s information is subject to the rules of witness discovery, meaning that the opposing attorney will have access to the information to prepare a rebuttal.
Expert witnesses can assist attorneys during the investigation period of a personal injury case. A lawyer’s job is to investigate the circumstances of a claim and identify the negligent parties. An expert witness in a field related to the case can identify facts and details an attorney may not notice otherwise.
In an automobile accident case, for instance, expert witnesses could be called to reconstruct the accident or injuries, look at accident reports, and analyze physical evidence from the crack to determine fault.
In wrongful death cases, a medical examiner would be asked to determine the victim’s medical condition and cause of death. This determination could expose the responsible party.
A plaintiff will not need to provide their own expert witness. The attorney handling the case will locate an expert witness as needed.
Expert witnesses get their name for a reason: They’re considered proficient in a field relevant to the case due to training, knowledge, skill, education, or experience.
In personal injury cases, facts that prove one side or the other become extremely important, as opinions and emotions are high. An expert witness serves as an objective, educated third-party.
In order to be certified as an expert witness, individuals need to provide testimony that is the product of known, accepted, and reliable methods and principles applied to the case.
Misinterpreted evidence can make or break a case. Part of an expert witness’s job is to explain complex evidence and information in a way a jury or courtroom can digest. Without a clear understanding of factual evidence, justice for a wrongdoing could be missed.
Even though the role of an expert witness is to provide facts, a testimony based on opinions is less restricted than it is on non-expert witnesses. Information by expert witnesses is considered more reputable than the testimony of the average person. They don’t have as much of a personal stake in the case as a plaintiff, defendant, or attorney.
Expert witnesses make decisions based on scientific methods. They would not be present at the time of injury, thus requiring that they make an educated guess about the turn of events. As a result, they’re allowed to voice an opinion as a professional if it would help the jury understand the case.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone’s negligent actions, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can 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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