If you are injured in a California accident and decide to pursue compensation from an at-fault party, your attorney may rely on the testimony of expert witnesses to support your case. When a personal injury attorney takes your case, he or she will launch an independent investigation into the accident that caused your injuries.
Part of this investigation will often include contacting and speaking with experts whose opinions and insight may be relevant to your case. Expert witnesses can be invaluable when you are trying to recover compensation from an at-fault party. Their testimony can be used to persuade the opposition to settle or to explain complicated (and important) facts to a jury.
What makes a witness an expert? There is no hard-and-fast definition. However, the Federal Rules of Evidence and a Supreme Court decision provide some helpful guidance in determining (a) when an expert is appropriate and (b) what an expert should be able to do.
The Federal Rules of Evidence explain that it would be appropriate for an attorney to present an expert witness when “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge” would be helpful to “assist the trier of fact [to] understand the evidence or determine a fact at issue in a case.” So, an expert would not really be necessary when an issue of fact is common knowledge or easily understood by a lay person.
Expert testimony would, however, be helpful in explaining information that is not common knowledge. For example, if you sustained a traumatic brain injury after a car accident, an expert witness could provide testimony to (a) explain the seriousness of your injury and (b) how that injury could limit your ability to resume your normal day-to-day activities.
Expert witnesses offer information, facts, and opinions about topics that are not common knowledge. While there is no requirement for an expert to have certain credentials, attorneys must choose their experts wisely. Not only will experts be subject to questioning by the opposing party, but they may be required to demonstrate their expertise in their specific field.
An opposing party who does not believe that a witness is either (a) an expert in his or her field or (b) is required in the case may request a Daubert Challenge. The Daubert Challenge is a hearing where a judge will “make a preliminary assessment of whether the testimony’s underlying reasoning or methodology is scientifically valid and properly can be applied to the facts at issue.” Under Daubert, an expert must be able to review the facts of a case, apply a valid method of analysis, and explain his or her interpretation of the evidence. At Glotzer & Leib, LLP, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the importance of choosing the best expert witnesses to support our arguments.
So, expert witnesses testify to offer insight and clarity into issues in a personal injury case that may not be easily understood by a non-expert. Why is this testimony important to a successful personal injury case? Why should your attorney hire an expert (or multiple experts) who may cost thousands of dollars? We’ve highlighted a few of the reasons that we believe expert witnesses may be worth the up-front cost.
Personal injury cases can be complicated. Regardless of whether you were injured in a car accident, slip and fall, or because of a faulty product, expert witnesses can offer insight and clarity about the more detailed nuances of a case. Expert witnesses that are commonly used during a personal injury lawsuit include:
How do attorneys choose expert witnesses to offer testimony in a personal injury case? Each personal injury case is unique. The expert(s) that may be helpful in proving your case will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Your attorney will determine which expert witnesses may be helpful by considering and weighing factors such as:
Your attorney will then find the best expert for your case by considering and weighing factors such as the expert’s:
At Glotzer & Leib, LLP, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the importance of choosing the best expert witnesses. The testimony and information provided by an expert witness can make or break a case. During our investigation of your accident, we review all information that may be relevant to help us determine which experts will offer the best support for your claim. We always choose experts who are experienced, knowledgeable, and well-respected. Contact our Los Angeles, Anaheim, or Pasadena office today for a free consultation and learn more about how expert witnesses can be helpful in your personal injury claim for damages.
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