A personal injury trial usually involves the plaintiff trying to show that the defendant did something wrong that resulted in the plaintiff's injury. The defendant is trying to counter that claim, by showing they did nothing wrong, or that the plaintiff's injury was someone else's fault. This is done by presenting evidence to the judge and jury.
Trial evidence consists of all sorts of relevant information, including the testimony of the parties and any witnesses, photos, videos, medical records, police records, and other various evidence. However, in some cases, the evidence alone may be too complicated for the average person to fully understand. This is where expert witnesses may be used by each party, to explain to the jury more complicated aspects of the evidence in the trial.
Expert Witness Testimony in Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury trial may necessitate the use of expert witnesses to present scientific, technical, medical, or other specialized knowledge. Not just anyone can be considered an expert witness in a court case. A witness can be considered an expert where they are qualified through their knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.
Experts are not required to speak about issues that are within the realm of a regular person's understanding. Experts may only be necessary if their scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will help the jurors to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue. An expert needs to base their opinion on sufficient facts, applying reliable principles and methods.
Even where the defendant and plaintiff both have an expert witness to speak to the same issue, given the same set of facts and data, the experts may come to opposite conclusions. Although the jury has the benefit of an expert witness with specialized training, it may still be up to the jury to determine which expert's analysis they agree with.
Experts in Washington D.C. Personal Injury Cases
Many personal injury cases utilize expert witnesses to offer an evaluation. The experts may draft a report based on the facts of the case and evidence available. The other side may question the expert on their evaluation. In the case of a jury trial, the expert may appear in court to testify as to their evaluation. The types of experts that may be used in a personal injury case will depend greatly on the specific facts of the case.
The most common expert witnesses in a personal injury case include medical experts, engineers, automobile experts, or actuaries and accountants. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit will involve multiple expert witnesses to speak to different aspects of the case.
- Medical Experts: Personal injury claims involve some physical or mental injury. We use highly trained healthcare professionals to treat our injuries, so it makes sense that we would use health care professionals to explain the injuries and treatment to the jury. Medical experts can testify to the causal relationship between an accident and the injury, as well as the extent and future health effects of the injury.
- Engineering Experts: Engineers may use their experience and training to evaluate the physics and mechanics behind an accident or injury. In a products liability case where someone was injured by a product defect, they can explain to the jury the design and manufacturing process, and help them understand how a particular product caused the plaintiff's injury.
- Automobile Experts: Most of us use an automobile every day to get around, but many of us don't really understand the mechanics of what goes on under the hood. In many personal injury cases, an automotive expert can testify to the jury to help them understand what happened during a vehicle malfunction or accident.
- Accounting Experts: Accounting experts can be a valuable asset to explaining to the jury the true cost of a serious bodily injury. An injury results in more than just medical bills; it may affect a person's ability to earn a living going forward. This could lead to a reduced earning potential, loss of income, future medical expenses, and even the loss of enjoyment in activities they are not longer able to do. Financial experts can evaluate the likely financial impacts of an injury so the jury can understand the real costs of a personal injury claim.
Expert witnesses can help to educate a jury on the more complex aspects of how a defendant may have caused the injury, the extent of the injury, and the long-term impacts. At Gilman & Bedigian, not only do we have a physician on staff, we also work closely with experts in a variety of fields to evaluate our cases. If you are considering bringing a personal injury claim, contact our team to find out more about how we can fight for you.