“Can an expert witness help my case?” This question almost always comes up in a personal injury or malpractice claim. Today, we would like to share with you what an expert witness is, and when you might need one.
If you have ever watched a trial (fiction or real-life) on TV, you are likely familiar with the job of a witness. You know the type of witness we’re talking about: The innocent bystander who saw the hit-and-run, or the wife who perjures herself by insisting that her husband was with her the night of the crime under investigation. These witnesses are the people who directly saw or participated in the crime in some way, or are close to the case through a relationship with someone involved in the case. Their job is to talk about what they observed happening leading up to, or during the case.
So what is an expert witness?
According to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 “A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion.”
In simpler terms, the expert witness has specific knowledge in an area that directly applies to the case. It could be a doctor who specializes in a particular area of medicine, an accident reconstructionist, or a mechanical engineer who has in-depth knowledge of how a particular machine works. The expert brings insightful knowledge on a specific topic to help shed light on the details of the case. They are allowed to share their thoughts and conclusions as long as the information is scientifically supported.
The end goal, of course, is to give the court the expertise needed to bring about an appropriate verdict.
When do I need an expert witness?
Expert witnesses are typically used in cases that require scientific, medical or technical expertise to unwrap and understand the details of the case. Some of the most common case types requiring the services of an expert witness include malpractice (medical or otherwise), automobile accidents, and personal injury cases.
It is important to work with an attorney to determine whether an expert witness is needed, and when. If it is a complex case, it may be necessary for your lawyer to bring in what is called a consulting expert witness – someone who can provide expertise during the discovery process. Information from the consulting expert witness helps the legal team build the case and make critical decisions about what is needed to support the claim during legal proceedings. Once your case goes to trial – if the case involves explanation that may be confusing to jurors, or there is medical or technical information that is critical to the case – an expert witness may be called in to testify.
Each situation is different, but if you believe it is time to engage an expert witness in your claim, Protzman Law can help. With our background in personal injury and malpractice cases, we know when it is necessary to contact an expert witness…and we have the network to find the expertise needed for each situation.