If liability or damages are unclear in your personal injury case, an expert witness may be able to tilt the case in your favor. But how do you know whether you need an expert witness? What can you reasonably expect from them?
Below, we explain when you might benefit from having an expert witness and other important information you should know about these specialists.
Witnesses can provide valuable testimony to support your case. For example, a witness to a car accident can testify that the other driver ran a red light and crashed into you. A loved one can testify about how the accident has affected you and your lifestyle.
These are called lay witnesses because they testify about things they have observed that do not require any special education or training.
Expert witnesses are different because they base their testimony on knowledge, skill, and experience in a particular field. They often have advanced education and other credentials that give them authority to speak on a subject that is outside general knowledge.
Plaintiffs and defendants can call expert witnesses to testify to give the jury a better understanding of the case and particular evidence. Because expert witnesses use their knowledge and experience, they can generally testify about a much wider range of issues than lay witnesses.
Juries sometimes view expert witnesses as more objective because they had no experience with the victim or association with the case until they were hired.
Expert witnesses can provide valuable testimony to support your claim. As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you have the burden of showing that events are more likely than not to have happened as you allege. An expert witness may be able to bolster your case, potentially allowing you to win your case and the compensation you deserve.
Expert witnesses can use their professional training and experience to provide valuable testimony about various aspects of your case.
Depending on the circumstances, this may include testimony pertaining to:
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the importance of expert witnesses and can explain when your case might benefit from one.
Expert witnesses can come from various fields and industries. Some of the most common types of expert witnesses include:
Medical professionals, such as doctors, surgeons, physician assistants, and technicians, may be called to testify about their medical opinions regarding victims’ injuries, treatment, and the effects of both on the victims. Counselors, psychologists, and therapists may provide testimony about how the accident could affect the victim’s mental health.
Technical experts, such as engineers or architects, use science to determine how accidents occurred.
Financial and economic experts can testify about the economic losses caused by the accident and injuries.
Economic experts may consider various factors in making their calculations, such as the victim’s:
An experienced personal injury lawyer can determine which expert witnesses to hire to help your case.
Under Oregon law, expert witness testimony is allowed if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the court in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue.
Witnesses can be qualified as experts because of their:
Lawyers can challenge the expertise of a witness before they are allowed to testify.
To determine whether it makes sense to hire an expert witness, let’s look at a few examples of how they might be able to help in different types of cases:
An expert witness could testify in a medical malpractice case to explain what the acceptable standard of care was in a particular case and how the defendant deviated from it. This testimony could convince the jury that malpractice occurred so that they will rule in your favor.
Large commercial trucks are made up of thousands of individual parts. An accident reconstruction expert can prepare visual demonstrations that take objective evidence from the truck’s black box to explain how a truck accident occurred.
Expert medical witnesses could testify about how a brain injury occurred and how it impacts a victim. Additionally, economic experts may testify about the loss of earning potential and other financial losses so that any award accurately reflects these damages.
Economic experts may testify about the lifetime earning potential, financial support, and value of services a loved one would have provided had death not occurred. This could allow the family to be awarded a fair amount of compensation in a wrongful death case.
If you would like to learn more about whether an expert witness could benefit your case, contact our lawyer from Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers at (503) 272-8986. An experienced lawyer can help determine the evidence and witnesses needed to support your case.