In legal proceedings, complex topics and technical details are often a challenge for judges and juries to understand, and that’s where expert witnesses come in. Expert witnesses are trained and educated professionals that provide testimony based on their knowledge and skill.
They are critical to ensure a fair trial and to present evidence in a clear and concise manner.
Credentials and Qualifications of Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses must have specific qualifications to provide credible testimony. For instance, for medical malpractice cases, the expert witness should have a degree in medicine and extensive experience in the field of medicine in question (e.g., anesthesiology). These qualifications ensure that the expert witness has the necessary knowledge to offer reliable testimony.
Expert Witnesses Should Have Experience Testifying
Experience testifying is another vital qualification for expert witnesses. The more cases an expert witness has worked on, the more confidence a judge and jury will have in their testimony. By understanding the legal process, expert witnesses know how to deliver information and insights in a manner that resonates with those who are not experts in the field.
The Reputation of an Expert Witness
Expert witnesses are often used repeatedly because of their reputation. A positive reputation indicates the expert witness has provided reliable and unbiased testimony in the past. Such a reputation is important in building credibility with judges and juries.
An expert that provides inaccurate or sensationalized testimony can ruin their reputation, resulting in little or no future work.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications
Expert witnesses with research published in peer-reviewed journals have a higher level of credibility. The publications demonstrate that the expert witness has taken the time to ensure their research is accurate, unbiased, and backed by science. Such publications indicate that the expert retains the trust of the scientific community and has expertise in the field.
Why Do Personal Injury Lawyers Use Expert Witnesses?
Personal injury lawyers use expert witnesses for the following reasons:
To Assist Juries or Judges in Understanding Complex Issues
The primary reason attorneys use expert witnesses is that they can help juries or judges understand complex issues. These witnesses have the expertise and training to convey complex technical and scientific issues in a manner that can be easily understood.
By breaking down these issues, the expert witness can help the judge or jury understand the case.
To Offer Unbiased Testimony
One of the primary benefits of expert witnesses is their ability to provide unbiased testimony. Unlike family members or friends of the victim, an expert witness’s opinion is based solely on their knowledge and experience.
Expert witnesses are compensated for their time and expertise and have no vested interest in the outcome of the case. This objectivity is essential in providing reliable testimony, which can help judges and juries make informed decisions.
To Make Inferences from Facts and Evidence
Expert witnesses are allowed to make inferences from facts and evidence presented in the case. For instance, if the victim’s blood was found on a weapon, the expert witness can infer that the weapon was used to injure the victim.
What Types of Expert Witnesses Are Used in Personal Injury Cases?
The following types of experts provide opinions and testimony in personal injury cases:
1. Medical Experts
As the name suggests, medical experts are called upon to provide testimony in cases involving personal injury, malpractice, car accidents, and other accident cases. They can help the judge and jury understand the extent of a plaintiff’s injuries, including pain, suffering, and recovery. Medical experts can shed light on complex medical procedures and help explain medical jargon.
2. Mental Health Experts
Mental health experts are commonly involved in personal injury cases when a victim’s mental state is relevant. They can provide their professional opinion on a person’s pain and suffering and explain the implications of a certain mental health diagnosis.
3. Vocational Experts
Vocational experts are often called upon to assess job skills and earning potential. They can assess the amount of time it would take to train for a certain job and the earnings that person would receive at that job.
4. Engineering Experts
Engineering experts are typically involved in product liability or injury cases, providing opinions on complex issues such as product design and safety. They should have a deep understanding of scientific principles and specific technical standards that not everyone can grasp.
5. Forensic Experts
Forensic experts can provide valuable insight in a wide range of cases, such as accident reconstruction, cybersecurity, and even handwriting analysis. They have extensive training in their field and can offer objective analyses of complex issues.
6. Financial Experts
Financial experts are often called upon to calculate a personal injury victim’s future losses based on life expectancy and other factors. They can calculate the value of a person’s reduced earning potential, future costs of medical treatment, and other damages.
7. Securities Experts
Securities experts can offer testimony in cases involving fraud or insider trading, among other things. They have extensive knowledge of market behavior and can provide valuable insight into the mechanics of fraudulent activities.
An Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Has Access to Leading Experts to Strengthen Your Case
As you can see, expert witnesses can provide critical insight and lend credibility to your personal injury case. The type of expert witness you need will depend on the specifics of your case. With the right expert witness, you can significantly improve your chances of a positive outcome in court.
To arrange a case evaluation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys in Chicago, reach out to the legal team at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers. You can contact us at (312) 929-2884