How and When Are Experts Used in an Injury Case?
We hear a lot about expert witnesses, and what kind of expert witnesses should be used for a given case. But what are expert witnesses, and how and when are they used in actual trials? Knowing how to select, prepare, and hire the right expert witnesses can make or break your case.
What Expert Witnesses Do
Expert witnesses provide testimony on matters that require a special skill or expertise, that “normal” people are not able to testify about. You could testify about how much your back hurts, but unless you’re a doctor, you couldn’t interpret your MRI scan, and explain how that MRI shows an acute disc herniation to a jury.
There are all kinds of experts, for any kind of case.
A negligent security case may need experts in crime prevention. A slip and fall case may need experts who testify as to how a given fluid makes a particular surface slippery. An arborist may testify as to how roots of trees can grow underneath pavement, causing it to buckle and create dangerous cracks. A long term care expert may be needed to testify as to what your long term medical expenses may be.
Approval by the Court
An expert must be approved by the court as an expert in his or her field. That’s usually easy; as long as the expert has the required background and experience in the field he or she is testifying about the court will often approve the witness as an expert.
However, the expert cannot go outside his or her field. For example, a realtor may know everything about buying and selling homes, but that may not make her an expert appraiser. An orthopedic surgeon may know everything about the skeleton and surrounding structures, but that surgeon may not know how the impact of a given car accident can cause a given injury.
Once in Court
Although experts are not legal professionals, many have extensive experience testifying in court. However, many do not, and there is no requirement that the expert be experienced giving testimony in court. Some experts may need help conveying complex medical or scientific testimony, in ways that a jury can understand. Charts, pictures, or graphs also can help a jury understand an expert witness’ testimony.
The experts that you pick will usually be prepped by your attorney. Your attorney will give the expert the background of the case, and any documentation needed for the expert to form his or her opinion. The attorney will also ask the expert what the weaknesses of your case may be.
Once in court, your attorney will question your witness, and may “interpret” the more complex concepts given by your expert, in ways that the jury can easily understand. The attorney will also explain how or why the expert’s testimony supports your side of the case.
The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian have experience trying personal injury cases. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any type of accident. Schedule a consultation today.