Few roles in personal injury cases are as misunderstood as the function of an expert witness. Most people think they are there to advocate a particular point of view, which is not the case.
Instead, a good expert witness helps judges and juries understand what transpired in a case by offering a professional opinion, consulting on legal strategy, or testifying in court.
The following is a brief rundown of what an expert witness is, what their role consulting in a case is, and how one might be able to help your case. If you’ve experienced a personal injury, especially one in the workplace, an expert witness testifying on your behalf may be just what you need.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is an individual who has extensive knowledge in a subject that offers their services to assist in a legal case. These parties are used to fact-check, explain complex processes, develop case strategies, and provide an expert opinion on the facts of a case.
Who Are Expert Witnesses?
An expert witness can be anyone as long as they are acknowledged as an expert in their chosen field. For example, a surgeon can be an expert witness in their specific area of surgery. A civil engineer might be a consulting expert on matters about civil engineering.
The Role of an Expert Witness
Expert witnesses usually play at least one of three roles in any personal injury case:
- They help build the case, including helping with case strategy.
- They document the facts of the case and determine the validity of case components.
- They testify to the specifics of a case, using their expert knowledge to lend credence to a case position.
For example, in a personal injury case, an expert witness in the involved field would check out the claims of the plaintiff and defense and verify that what was alleged could and did happen. They may also provide consultation on how to go about presenting the facts to a judge or jury or how to approach settlement negotiations.
Finally, if needed, they might explain their professional opinion in court when testifying to help clarify the facts of the case.
One misconception is that an expert witness is there to back up a client’s position no matter what when they are testifying. That is wrong. The expert witness is there to verify the facts of the case when consulting and explain how those facts help your position. If they disagree with you or your attorney, they will tell you as much.
How Is an Expert Chosen
For example, if a personal injury case involved a defect that led to an auto accident, an experienced personal injury law firm, like Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law, would have access to an expert witness who would be familiar with the vehicle, accident logistics, or the defect. They would apply their knowledge to the case to prove or disprove their client’s position.
The Difference Between Consulting and Testifying
Some experts are hired to help build a case. They provide insight into case facts and explain case facts and how those facts are relevant to the case in question. They may investigate allegations or some element of the plaintiff or defense. Their goal is to provide input to the attorney to come up with the most compelling case possible that proves their client’s position.
Other experts are put on the stand and testify to the facts outlined above. They do not provide opinions on what happened unless asked. They provide insight into those facts and explain how they back up the assertion of their client when consulting.
Who Finds Expert Witnesses?
Your attorney will know who experts are in the relevant areas that pertain to your case. If they do not know firsthand, they have the resources to identify experts and will know who to call to get the most qualified and appropriate expert witness for your case when testifying.
An expert witness can help build a case, support the facts of a case and explain to a judge or jury why your case is valid. The right expert can help create an impeccable argument, backing you up and presenting it in court compellingly.
If you think your case would benefit from an expert witness, contact the experienced legal team at Mottaz & Sisk Injury law today.