Expert witnesses frequently play critical and quite important roles when litigating a personal injury case.
An expert witness is an individual who has been permitted to testify at trial due to a proficiency in a particular field relevant to the case at hand. There are many types of expert witnesses used in personal injury cases, many of which we will discuss in this article.
Experts are those who possess special experience, training, knowledge, skill, and/or education that extends beyond the experience of those in the general public. In order to prove your case in court, your attorney may need to hire certain experts who can testify to certain facts of the case, give their expert opinions to the court, and refute inaccurate testimony given from the defense.
Expert witnesses frequently play critical and quite important roles in litigation. In fact, some types of personal injury cases actually require the testimony of an expert witness before you can even bring a lawsuit before the court.
Types of expert witnesses, and their roles in personal injury cases.
Car Accident Reconstructionist
Car accident reconstruction specialists may assume the role of consultants in collision analysis, reconstruction of the accident, injury reconstruction, and crashworthiness. An accident reconstructionist may also provide reports that focus on collision speed and vehicle safety. This type of expert witness may also testify about acceleration, right-of-way, braking, steering angles, and other issues related to automobile accidents.
Particularly useful in accidents caused by 18-wheeler trucks, maintenance specialists can be critical to proving the trucking company did not perform maintenance as claimed or required, and whether or not this negligence led to (or contributed to) the truck accident.
Even though trucking companies are required to keep their vehicles in top shape and maintain records of maintenance, they do not always do so. They will seldom willingly accept any kind of accountability for accidents that occur as a result of poor maintenance, as the burden of proof is on you, the plaintiff. Sometimes the best way to prove accountability is to hire an expert witness (such as a former Texas Department of Transportation inspector) to testify before the court.
DOT Regulations Specialist
One job of a Department of Transportation regulations expert is to ensure that certain products (helmets, tires, airbags, etc.) are tested for safety prior to being put on the market. Their testimony can be used to provide plausible opinions as to whether or not DOT regulations were followed, and how that may have led to the accident.
The testimony of a regulations expert can have a huge impact on a case because he/she can also make an assessment regarding the compliance of the truck driver involved in the accident. The expert can even state the actions of the defendant violated DOT regulations, or that the trucking company did not act in the best interest of the injured party.
First responders (police officers, firefighters, EMTs) can testify regarding the facts of an incident they witnessed. Sometimes, people view first responders as having some special knowledge that the average witness doesn’t have, so there is a question to whether the first responder can testify as an expert witness. Someone such as an EMT who provided medical treatment at the scene of an accident can be called as an expert witness, provided the judge is satisfied he is qualified.
Phone Records Specialist
Cell phone records are frequently used as evidence in car accident cases where one driver suspects that the other was texting and driving. Their testimony can be used to demonstrate whether or not the other driver was likely using their mobile phone at the time of the accident, which can help prove liability.
ECM and EDR Specialist
Data from the vehicle’s ECM (electronic control module) and EDR (event data recorder) can be used to show various information regarding the vehicle’s actions immediately prior to an accident.
An ECM/EDR data expert’a job is to interpret and explain the driver log data obtained from an 18-wheeler’s on-board computer, and offer his/her educated opinions about the circumstances surrounding the accident (vehicle speed, brake usage, headlights, cruise control, etc.) and whether or not they may have contributed to the crash. They may also be able to show if the driver had exceeded the federal hours-of-service rules (too much time on the road) mandated by the FMCSA.
Medical Doctors in General
When you call upon medical doctors and family practice physicians to testify as expert witnesses, he or she will review the facts of the case in order to understand all the issues and objectively clarify any relevant medical questions. They may also assess the condition of the patient in order to determine appropriate ongoing medical care, and to assess the need for more specialized care in the future.
A forensic toxicologist provides clarification in personal injury cases that involve an investigation into medical malpractice deaths, drug interactions, poisoning, and cases that involve drug use. Some companies that employ forensic toxicologists use a panel in order to ensure the testimony of the experience is based on evidence, is objective, and reflects current toxicology standards.
Neurology experts may provide testimony on a variety of topics relating to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Oftentimes, a neurologist may be needed to testify to the degree of your injury, your level of disability, and your treatment plan moving forward.
Brain injuries often require years of rehabilitation or assistive care, and you need to take this into consideration before accepting a settlement with the insurance company. Through the testimony of a neurologist, you can further prove your damages and seek compensation to cover these expected future costs.
An orthopedic surgeon can provide testimony regarding all aspects of your orthopedic injuries, including your level of disability and future outlook. They may provide reports related to surgery, arthoplasty, hip replacement, spinal injuries, and other issues related to the musculoskeletal system.
Qualified medical examiners are responsible for evaluating the cause(s) of death, and their expert testimony can be vital to a wrongful death case in regard to determining responsibility. These expert witnesses conduct examinations and provide qualified and objective opinions on a victim’s medical condition and cause of death.
Pain Management Specialist
Since some types of injuries can leave a victim with chronic pain and discomfort, the injured party can often help his/her case by using the testimony of a pain management specialist in order to demonstrate the full value of their related damages. This expert witness can testify about the extent of pain the victim suffers, how it affects his quality of life, as well as how much compensation will be needed to pay for future treatment.
Life Care Planner
A life care planner may offer testimony on several different areas that include disability management, valuation of an individual’s future care expenses, determination of loss of income, and more. They may also provide testimony in the areas of an individual’s earning capacity, reduced ability to perform his or her job, expected future earning capacity, severity of the disability, life expectancy, and other related topics.
A vocational expert testifies about the types of jobs that are available for an injured party, and the effect of an injury on a person’s ability to perform any type of work. This expert will also provide testimony regarding the type of work an individual has performed in the last 15 years, and whether there are other types of work he can perform in spite of his injury/disability.
Vocational expert witness testimony can be vital in showing your diminished earning capacity, which can help you recover compensation equal to what you would have been able to earn, had you not been injured.
A rehabilitation specialist works with helping an injured party improve and restore his/her functional abilities following an injury. They may also work with those who have permanent disabilities such as spinal cord injuries or a loss of limb. They often provide services as expert witnesses in order to discuss a victim’s future rehabilitation needs, as well as the costs associated with such treatment.
Trust in the attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm.
Over the past 20 years, Rasansky Law Firm has helped countless victims recover the compensation they’re owed following a car accident or personal injury. In that time, we’ve worked closely with many expert witnesses whose testimony played an integral role in the amount of compensation our clients recovered. To discuss the facts of your case (and your options moving forward) with our Dallas attorneys, call 1-877-405-4313 for a free consultation today.