If you have suffered an injury and are interested in bringing a claim for damages against the party who caused the injury, you will need to prove that the other party was in fact the cause of injury. The person bringing the claim for damages, known as the plaintiff, is charged with the burden of proving the opposing party was at fault. It is then the responsibility of the defendant, to refute the claims that you present to the Court.
As such, the plaintiff must convince the other side, a judge, and/or a jury that their injuries are worth a certain amount of money in order to receive the damage amount you are seeking. It is always helpful to have the testimony of your own doctors, nurses, family, and friends to show the seriousness of your injuries. However, these parties often come across as biased, due to their personal relationships with you. To remedy this problem and augment the testimony that those people will give, it is highly recommended that you use the testimony of an expert witness.
Expert Witness Testimony in Maryland Personal Injury Claims
A witness is considered to be an “expert” when they obtain "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge" that will assist a Court in understanding the evidence or help the Court determine a fact that is in dispute. In many cases, expert witnesses may only testify in an injury case if they have the necessary expertise that directly relates to the claim you are bringing. Rarely will the expert witness have actually witnessed the event that caused your injury; however, they should be well-versed on the nature of the incident in order to provide assistance with the ultimate outcome of the claim.
Often, an expert witness in a personal injury case will reconstruct how the injury happened in a way that shows who should rightly be held liable by way of their opinion which is held in very high regard due to the witness' expert status.
Types of Experts in Maryland Personal Injury Cases
The type of expert you may need to support your claim will depend upon the facts of your case. You may need an expert that has very specific knowledge on a particular fact in your case. Or, you may need an expert to speak on a matter that is general and broad. The following are the common field of study or work of expert witnesses:
- Medical: Medical experts can assist the finder of fact in understanding the true natures of an injury and the impact any potential injury could have on a victim's life.
- Engineering: Experts in the field of engineering can help the court understand the mechanics of an injury; for example, they can demonstrate how evidence such as skid marks measured on a roadway can provide information as to how fast an individual was driving at the time of a collision.
- Automobile: Experts in the automotive field can illustrate how injuries from vehicle collisions occur; for example, they could testify about about how certain design elements could make a particular vehicle unsafe for consumers.
- Accountancy: Accounting experts can assist the court in coming to an accurate amount of damages. For example, if a victim lost the ability to walk due to an injury, an accounting expert can provide the finder of fact with a clear breakdown of the costs (such as medical bills, loss of wages, modifications to living spaces) the victim will encounter throughout his or her lifetime.
If, for example, your injury was caused by a car accident, an expert witness may be of great help since they may be able to provide a Court with legitimate evidence of what a driver could have perceived or should have perceived just before the accident took place while taking into account the time of day, traffic conditions, weather conditions, visibility, etc. The expert will also likely be able to discern what rate of speed each of the cars were traveling at the time of the accident as well as what the core cause of the accident actually was. If your expert witness is able to definitively state on record that the other side was at fault, it will be very persuasive to the Court.
If your injury was caused by an event other than a car accident, an expert witness may still be of great assistance. For example, if you are seeking damages involving diminished earning capacity, you must be able to prove to the Court that your earning capacity has in fact diminished due to the injuries you suffered at the hands of the opposing party. An expert witness may be able to do this by explaining to the Court why they believe your earning capacity has been diminished. They can present evidence as to the state of the current job market, what field of work you were, and currently are, qualified for, how it will not only be difficult for you to find a job but also hard for you to keep that job due to your injury. Further, an expert may also be able to explain to a Court what they believe your medical expenses and pain and suffering may be in the future. Having quantifiable proof as to the economic damage your injury has brought upon you is a major help to the Court and will enable the Court decide a proper and fair award amount.
Hiring an expert can be an incredibly helpful step in building a successful person injury claim. At Gilman & Bedigian, we work closely with experts in a variety of fields (in addition to having a physician on staff). If you are considering bringing a personal injury claim, contact our team to find out more about how we can aggressively fight for compensation on your behalf.