Expert Witnesses are Valuable in an Injury Lawsuit
In the majority of personal injury cases — whether the matter involves a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or other negligence — litigation strategy that incorporates expert witness testimony is critical to the plaintiff’s success.
Expert witnesses are a diverse group. In a standard motor vehicle accident case, for example, one expert (economist) may be retained to give testimony that relates to job prospects in a particular industry, while a second expert (accident reconstructionist) may be retained to investigate and reconstruct the accident so the jury can better understand how the accident happened and whose fault it was. Experts are expensive, however. Therefore, efficient and effective use of experts is a must to keep the costs of litigation low.
The jury is not required to accept the testimony of an expert witness as true. Juries are entitled to determine whether the testimony of a particular witness is credible. Success therefore hinges on the expert’s ability to convince the jury of his or her credibility. A skilled attorney will retain and work with experts who are credible and come across as authentic.
To better understand the key roles that expert witnesses play in injury lawsuits, let’s explore the different issues to which their testimony may relate.
Accident and collision reconstruction experts may be retained to investigate and piece together the events preceding injury. Expert testimony relating to the accident itself may be helpful. At the early stages of litigation, the results of the investigation may lead to new claims and strategies.
In many injury lawsuits, the damages claims are challenged vigorously by the defendant. In these instances, expert testimony can lend further credence to your numbers. For example, suppose that you have injured your neck/back in a slip and fall accident. As a result, you can no longer work as a physical laborer and must obtain an alternative, less physically-intensive position. Your damage claim will therefore include a loss of future earning capacity element that measures the difference in earnings for your new career as compared to your old one. An expert on the job market can be brought in to testify as to the possibility of you finding a new, alternative career (given your background), and how much you might expect to earn. The expert may testify as to how these future earnings compare with the projected earnings for your previous career had you not been injured.
Some injury lawsuits require — to prove liability — that the defendant’s conduct violate established norms of their industry. Industry experts can be brought in to testify as to what those norms actually are. For example, if you are injured in an auto accident due to a faulty seatbelt, then an auto industry expert may be brought in to testify as to the industry standards surrounding the safety testing of seatbelts.
As a plaintiff, retaining credible medical experts can help to develop a strong case when the defendant aggressively challenges the existence of the injuries, the extent of the injuries, or whether certain treatment was required. Oftentimes, the defendant will retain their own team of medical experts who will challenge your claims. For example, if you have a pre-existing neck condition, and the accident at-issue exacerbated your neck condition, then the defendant’s expert witnesses may testify that the neck condition worsened naturally, and not as a result of the accident trauma.
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct, you may be entitled to recover damages to compensate you for the various injuries you sustained as a result. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers at (888) 888-9285 for a free consultation with an experienced Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer today.