Expert witnesses play a central role in many personal injury cases.
Because a fair number of personal injury cases involve highly complex situations that are outside the knowledge of an average layperson or judge.
For example, car accidents may seem simple enough at first glance. But there isn’t always sufficient evidence to prove, for example, how fast the other car was going or exactly how the accident occurred. In addition, insurance company lawyers looking to deny claims cast doubt on everything. And suddenly, it is not so clear exactly what happened and who was at fault. Accident reconstruction experts can be of enormous value to a personal injury case.
Another example is medical malpractice. Given the intricacies of medical treatments and/or surgery, having an expert witness in a medical malpractice case can be invaluable to establishing liability and explaining exactly how the doctor/nurse/practitioner fell below the standard of care.
Still another example of a complicated personal injury case would be a workers’ compensation case that involves not an accident, but a work-related illness. Proving that an disease is an occupational disease requires proving that it is “a disease due to causes and conditions (…) characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment”.
Not an easy thing to do.
As a result, in these types of cases (and others, of course) it is necessary to have an expert witness.
The Role of an Expert Witness
An expert witness helps to unravel complicated facts and can provide the information needed for a non-expert (like a judge or the jury) to understand and analyze technical, scientific, or highly complex facts.
As might be expected, in personal injury cases, it is not unusual to have conflicting interpretations of the same evidence. Expert testimony can help the determiners of fact (i.e., the judge or jury) clearly understand what happened and sort through the conflicting interpretations of the evidence so that they can determine liability.
In a medical malpractice case, for example, an expert can help to educate the judge or jury on technical medical issues and the appropriate standard of care in the community. A medical malpractice expert can also explain the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life.
Another aspect of an expert’s role is to provide unbiased and impartial evidence in a personal injury case. Expert witnesses are not fact witnesses. In other words, they do not testify based on what they saw or heard. Rather, the expert’s testimony is based on his/her objective analysis of the evidence based on the expert’s own scientific, technical or specialized knowledge or experience. Because they are considered to be impartial, the judge and jury are more likely to trust the information and interpretation of the evidence being provided by the expert.
Who Can Be an Expert Witness?
Not just anyone can qualify as an expert witness. In addition, an expert can only testify as to certain matters.
Further, it is important to realize that not all personal injury cases require expert testimony. That being said, most do.
Before someone can testify as an expert witness, his or her testimony must be necessary. Such testimony is required if scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact (i.e., judge or jury) to understand the evidence.
In addition, there are rigorous requirements that a person must meet in order to qualify as an expert witness. The legal disputes over the proper test to determine whether a person qualifies as an expert are many and varied.
Generally speaking, however, under Florida law, a person can qualify as an expert based on his knowledge, skill, experience, training or education in a particular area or field.
Does Your Personal Injury Case Need an Expert Witness?
As noted above, not all personal injury cases require expert witness testimony.
However, expert testimony can be particularly helpful in several types of personal injury cases such as:
- Medical malpractice cases
- Slip and fall cases
- Car accident cases
- Products liability cases
- Truck accident cases
- Wrongful death cases, and
- Any case where the interpretation of the evidence is in dispute
Whether your particular case needs the assistance of an expert depends entirely on the facts of your case.
Your personal injury lawyer can help you understand whether your case can benefit from expert testimony. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling cases that involve complex technical, scientific, or medical issues, so we know when an expert can be of most value. And we know who to call.
In Florida, Personal Injury Attorneys Helping The Injured
Our team of personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping those who are injured through the negligence of another. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact us or call the firm at 777-JOHN. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we serve clients throughout Florida. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.