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Expert Witness Testimony in Personal Injury Cases Explained

January 29 2020 | Blog
  • Obtaining witness statements can be crucial in ensuring compensation for your injuries. However, not all essential witnesses for your claim will be direct eyewitnesses of your accident. You may also require the support of expert witnesses. Keep reading to learn what an expert witness is and how his or her testimony can help you obtain the full amount of compensation for your injuries.

    Whether you have previous experience with personal injury cases or not, you may realize that eye-witness testimony can be the key to a strong compensation claim. That’s why, in the aftermath of an accident, the injured party should make an effort to find potential witnesses of the mishap and get their contact details.

    As long as it is safe and reasonable to do so, it may be advisable that you work to obtain witness contact information right at the scene of your accident. Then, if you decide to hire a personal injury attorney and file a compensation claim, your lawyer will be able to contact the witnesses, obtain their statements, and use them at various stages of the legal process.

    Convincing testimonies from reliable witnesses can be an invaluable asset both during the settlement negotiations with the insurance company and at a trial.

    In the legal world, witnesses who testify about the facts of the accident they have personally observed are known as lay witnesses. However, in certain circumstances, even the indisputable testimony of a lay witness may have its limitations. Lay witness statements must be fully supported and corroborated by evidence to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation.

    Still, evidence is often open to interpretation. The value of any piece of evidence your attorney discovers and presents may be questioned by the lawyers representing the at-fault party.

    This is why your attorney may seek to further corroborate your claim with expert witness testimonies. Working with them may be instrumental in obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries.

    How Expert Witnesses Differ from Eyewitnesses

    Expert witnesses weren’t present when the accident happened and have not observed any of the facts that lay witnesses may have testified to. An expert witness is someone who, due to his or her professional or academic credentials, possesses expertise that a layperson lacks. Thanks to their experience and knowledge, expert witnesses are able to give opinions on important facts related to the claim to help the jury better understand the matters involved.

    Since expert witness testimony can be a determining factor in the outcome of a claim and trial, not every professional or academic will be deemed suitable to serve as an expert in a personal injury case. A person’s fitness for that position is often based on his or her years of work, reputation, publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as prior experience as an expert witness.

    How Can an Expert Witness Help?

    Expert witness testimony may be essential in providing useful clarification and opinions with regard to the following issues related to a personal injury claim:

    • Accident reconstruction: Accident reconstruction can provide important information about the circumstances and causes of the accident. This may then serve as proof of fault, which is one of the key issues in a personal injury claim. For example, expert witnesses who deal with car accident reconstruction may be able to establish the approximate speeds at which the vehicles were traveling upon impact, the directions in which they were heading, stopping distances, and other important details.
    • Medical issues: Expert witnesses who are medical professionals may present facts and opinions about the injuries sustained by the victim. This can be particularly useful when one party needs to prove that a person’s medical issues and injuries arose from negligence rather than from a pre-existing condition. Further, a medical expert may also provide information about the future costs of treatment and rehabilitation that a person will likely need if their injuries are expected to be long-term or permanent.
    • Financial and economic issues: When an injury entails a long-term or permanent inability to work, financial and vocational experts may weigh-in to provide information about the projected financial losses of the victim and the victim’s family. In addition, such expert witnesses may help calculate the cost of vocational training if the victim has to change careers due to their injuries.

    How to Choose the Right Expert

    The decision whether to employ an expert is a weighty one. The other party will have the opportunity to question the testimony of the expert witnesses and cross-examine them during the trial, so choosing the right expert is of utmost importance.

    To make the right choice, you may consult expert witness directories that are available both in Kentucky and Tennessee. However, if you decide to work with an experienced personal injury attorney, he or she will no doubt help you find a witness whose expertise will best help you prevail in your compensation claim.

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