When someone is pursing a personal injury case, there are a lot of factors that play into the success of the case and the ability to obtain full and fair compensation. The facts and evidence of the case should be well-documented. There should be a detailed report of what happened, photographs, video footage (if available), and any other available evidence that will help establish your claim. If there are any individuals who witnessed the event that led to your injury, their testimony can be very helpful in substantiating the case. Another key factor in the success of many cases is the role expert witnesses play.
What is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is not to be confused with an eyewitness. Expert witnesses almost never witnessed the actual event. Rather, they are professionals in various fields who are brought in to assist the plaintiff’s legal team and/or to take the witness stand and provide expert testimony to the jury. There are two general types of expert witnesses that are used in personal injury cases:
- Consulting Experts: These are professionals who work behind the scenes providing guidance and support to the legal team. They may assist in various tasks such as reviewing documents, advising the attorney and staff, and helping with the plaintiff’s legal strategy. If the consulting expert does not testify, the other side may never know that they were used in the case. If, on the other hand, it is decided later on that they should testify, they can be converted to a testifying expert, which would require compliance with disclosure rules.
- Testifying Experts: A testifying expert is one who is listed as a witness who intends to testify in court. They do not always end up taking the stand, depending on how the case goes, but they must be ready to do so. In addition to being a highly reputable specialist in their chosen field of study, a testifying expert must also have strong communication skills and extensive experience testifying in similar cases.
Types of Expert Witnesses
There are several types of expert witnesses that can play a major role in a personal injury case, these include:
- Rehabilitation Specialists
- Pain Management Specialists
- Medical Examiners
- Mental Health Professionals
- Accident Reconstruction Specialists
- Forensic Evidence Specialists
- Phone Records Specialists
- Manufacturing Experts
- Life Care Planners
- Financial Professionals
How an Expert Witness can Play a Key Role in the Success of your Case
There are several ways in which an expert witness can give a plaintiff a higher chance of winning the case. Here are some key areas in which the role of an expert witness can be pivotal:
- They can provide credible, unbiased testimony
An expert witness is someone who is highly respected in their industry/field of specialty. Their opinion is backed by years (or in most cases decades) of professional experience and an impeccable reputation for adhering to high ethical standards. Though testifying experts are paid for their time to appear in court, they are there to provide an objective opinion based solely on the facts and evidence of the case.
- They can provide proper perspective and make complex subjects understandable
One of the most important roles a testifying expert has is to clearly communicate to the jury on subjects that are highly complicated and difficult to understand. An expert witness can break down the facts and evidence of the case, explain why certain items (which relate to their area of expertise) are important, and help give the jury the right perspective as they evaluate these factors.
- They can help show the extent of your injuries
Individuals who have been injured due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party typically experience far more than just the financial loss from incurring high medical bills and missing work. There are physical, mental, and psychological costs as well; such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life, just to name a few. Expert witnesses can clearly explain to the jury not only the economic costs of your injury, but the non-economic costs as well.
- They can provide leverage that could lead to an earlier settlement
Having reputable experts on your team not only give you a far better chance to prevail at trial, they also make it more likely that the other side will try to settle. When the defense sees that you have various expert witnesses that are ready to testify, they may decide that it is far less costly to forego litigation and enter into settlement negotiations.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of another person’s negligence, contact the experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead. Our attorneys have established relationships with experienced and skilled Expert Witnesses, that will provide the support needed for your damages claim. Contact our office at (703) 361-1555 or our online contact form.