Helping The Hurt Attorney Blog

Role Of An Expert Witness In An Auto Accident Case

Things happen unexpectedly, and car accidents aren’t excused from that.

Whether you are driving fast or slow, accidents happen. Things like damaged brakes, drowsiness, over-fatigue, drug and alcohol intake, and irresponsibility are common causes of a vehicular collision.

Severe car accident

Even when you drive carefully, there are still people around the road running their vehicles without taking precaution.

It is not a good sight to see disasters happening on the road, especially when you know that victims can be excessively injured. What’s worse knowing the cause of their death is the negligence of another vehicle driver.

Although no one expects to get involved with these sudden situations, these moments become serious and often go to the court. 

So how important is an expert witness when the situation heads to court?

 

The Case Goes to Trial

Not all vehicle accidents can end in a settlement. Sometimes trials are necessary.

The procedure goes on with the following.

 

The Jury Option

The jury takes the action of deciding the key issues affected in the accident. This part also brings to the selected jury members where they are asked series of questions so both the judge and the lawyer can learn more about each of them.

These questions are not only to know them but to identify if they have any partialities or prejudices which impacts the trial.

 

The Opening Statements

This is started by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

The plaintiff holds the burden of proving the case’s accusations. Ideally, the opening statement brings opportunity to each party’s lawyers in laying out their sides.

 

The Plaintiff's Evidence Presentation

The plaintiff’s lawyer presents the plaintiff’s case.

Evidence collected by expert witness

Evidence given here is done first as the plaintiff holds the burden of proof. This is where the lawyer presents proofs regarding the issues by calling out the witnesses.

 

The Defendant's Evidence Presentation

This is done after the plaintiff’s lawyer rest the case.

This is the part as to where the defendant’s lawyer takes up his turn in presenting the evidence. Similar format to that of the plaintiff’s lawyer follows here. It calls out witnesses to attest to the jury all those brought up issues.

 

Closing Arguments

Lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendant gives a closing argument.

Each lawyer talks about the evidence to the jury. This also brings each lawyer the great opportunity to encourage the jury in drawing their conclusions rightly taken from the evidence.

With this, enduring a judgment is done in favor of a particular party.

 

Deliberation of the Jury

This part is where the jury deliberates on the evidence before reaching a decision.

Jury deliberations must remain confidential. Usually, the deliberation obtains no time limit which brings it to last for a couple of days.

 

The Verdict of the Jury

When the verdict arises, that is when the jury informs the judge regarding the deliberations. This is when the judge brings the jury back to the court to read the verdict to each party.

For additional information on how a trial works, check out The Trial Process.

 

The Primary Function of an Expert Witness

An expert witness is anyone who obtains knowledge and experience in a particular field to offer duty in the court in giving an unbiased opinion or any specific aspects of his expertise.

The expert witness's primary function is to express their independent opinion based on the provided information.

This specific professional is employed in numerous capacities such as litigation, arbitration, and tribunals.

They are working with the two types which are:

Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses always offer their opinions in a case.

This kind of witness can be qualified specialists in economics, medicine, and psychology.

Although these professionals are permitted more flexibility when it comes to their testimony, the content of their proof is thoroughly and cautiously examined by the court to see validity.

 jury listening to expert witness

Fact Witnesses

This is a person who is also a clinical professional who acquires vast personal knowledge regarding of events about the case. He testifies the case together with the things they have observed or witnessed personally.

Fact witnesses testify on what they have perceived without working on an opinion.

 

Responsibilities of an Expert Witness

With how sharp the job of an expert is, many of their responsibilities need to be taken seriously. By that, the professional will work with a variety of tasks.

An expert witness will:

  • Offer an opinion by showing evidence or report before a court. This specific form is vital since the expert can never provide proof without it.
  • Give an independent opinion concerning the subject matter associated with the given instructions. These instructions show the expert's report.
  • Obey the rules of the procedure that is applicable.
  • Work with an overriding duty to the court or any other trial.
  • Guarantee that the report provided holds the essential information set by the rules of the court.
  • Offer independent and truthful opinions whether or not they back up their client's case.
  • Work with significant independence, particularly when discounting the evidence which is perceived to be partisan.

An expert witness will not:

  • Offer advice
  • Act as the client's negotiator
  • Offer detailed instructions
  • Provide opinions that are far from their expertise.
  • Offer advice.
  • Debate your case nor suggest what the case must have. It is the job of the client's legal representatives to defend the case.
  • Accept an appointment where a conflict of interest is involved.
  • Receive an invitation on conditional terms for the case's outcome.
  • Agree with contractual terms in writing before starting the work.


Car Accidents Because of Negligence

Negligence is the common basis for many vehicle accident lawsuits. If you have been involved in an auto accident and have been either charged or are charging the other party, then negligence is undoubtedly observed here.

Negligence is a legal theory which drivers should use to evade injuries to other motorists and everyone who is on the road.

In a road collision case, the plaintiff here must show that the defendant was neglectful. And with this, he needs to work with the right way through the help of a negligence claim which obtains various elements including:

 

The defendant was not cautious.

This is called violating or breaking the driver’s duty of care.

This brings in to determining whether the driver is cautious which brings the law to comparing his conduct to that of a reasonable person.

When the defendant has breached his duty of reasonable care, then the case should go on. A reasonable driver’s conduct brings in to play stopping at a red light, following the car in front with a clear distance, and looking out for crossing pedestrians.

Duty of care is the main factor when determining how cautious a driver is.

 

The conduct of the defendant caused injuries and damages to the plaintiff.

It is essential for the plaintiff to be able to display their injuries or damages from the defendant.

 

The plaintiff suffered from losses or was injured.

Victims of vehicular accidents are enabled to compensation for their injuries, damages, earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

medical and legal expenses of personal injury lawsuit

Whenever there are no losses or injuries shown, then the plaintiff cannot receive anything.

It is crucial for the plaintiff to obtain a complete and detailed record of all the damages and injuries caused by the accident.

 

The Different Kinds of Expert Witnesses for Vehicular Accident Cases

When it comes to vehicular accidents, what an expert witness does here is to analyze any complex issues, draw some conclusions, and elucidate their opinions further at the trial for both the judge and the jurors to hear out.

These opinions help the judge and jurors regulate issues regarding the vehicle’s speed during the collision, how injuries may cause frailty to the victim, all those forces being hooked even during a low-speed impact, and how the collision may affect the victim’s earnings.

With that, there are different types of expert witnesses who can help solve the case. The most prevalent types of expert witnesses are:

1. Economists

These economic experts are those individuals who help in the calculation of the value of everything lost during the accident such as income, benefits, and even with future medical costs.

Additional issues which to consider here include inflation, lost promotions value, gone pension benefits, and medical care rising cost.

 

2. Medical Experts

Medical experts are those treating injuries.

This professional explains both the pathology and anatomy of the injuries to the jury. They also talk about how severe these injuries are and what suffering may be expected.

Additionally, they will talk about any future medical treatment needed and the effects of the damage to the victim’s capacity to work or do activities both in social and recreational.

 

3. Rehabilitation Specialists

These specialists are case managers, physical therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, and vocational specialists.

They help in determining and analyzing the plaintiff’s injuries and how it will impact their ability to work and do things in the future.

What these individuals commonly do is to look at whether you are still fit to work after weeks or months of the accident or you can be retrained in another occupation to help you go back to employment again.

 

4. Engineering Experts

These experts observe faulty roadway or insufficient signing.

They have a deep understanding regarding the state and federal guidelines when it comes to roadway construction and design. Additionally, these professionals are suitably trained in physiology and anatomy.

They are also experienced in classifying both angle and magnitude of forces which impacts the injury and damage.

 

5. Accident Reconstructionist

What an accident reconstructionist does here is to use the testimonial, physical, and other needed clear evidence to recreate everything that has happened during the collision.

These professionals help in drawing up conclusions pertaining the forces that affect the collision, the speed of the caught vehicles, the visibility of those automobiles when signing, topographic limitations, and each driver’s views before the collision occurred.

 

6. Mental Health Professional

This is the professional who brings out discussions whether the suffered injury or damage has impacted the victim’s mental and emotional well-being. Also, they help recognize if the damage could affect the person’s quality of life.

For additional information regarding the types of expert witnesses, please view Multiple Roles and Types of Expert Witnesses.

 

Dealing With an Expert Testimony

Expert testimony is a bit costly which is why a lot of victims question its worth.

Prosecution occurring at personal injury trial

Although juries who find bias within testimonies from friends and family, they weigh all the given information. It is actually up to the jury to either believe or not believe the testimony brought up by the expert witness.

What the jury considers is both the training and experience of the expert witness together with all the proofs being relied on. Also, jurors want to hear out the expert’s reason for an opinion on whether things have to be trusted or not.

It is crucial to hire a quality expert witness. With this, the victim must get an expert with a firm reputation who has been attesting to both defendants and plaintiffs for years.

 

Thoughts to Have Before Choosing an Expert

You will likely have all sorts of thoughts bombarding your mind while recovering from your accident injuries.

These things make you worry because of course, how can you pay your bills if you cannot get back to work because of the physical damages caused by the car collision?

With such problem, you then began wondering about how an expert witness can help your case

While tossing these ideas around in your head, you should consider:

  • Who an expert witness is: An expert witness is a professional who is significantly knowledgeable of their duties and responsibilities. 
  • Your need of an expert witness: You only need an expert who is fit in handling and understanding your case. Consider all types of expert witnesses.
  • How the expert can help your case: This is dependent on the type of expert witness you acquired, but they can assist by providing clear expert testimony on your case's behalf.
  • How to find the best expert in town: You may talk to your attorney about where to find this specific expert. 
  • The affordability of the professional expert: For this, if you have no idea about how an expert witness costs, then you may want to discuss it with your lawyer. There are times when your lawyer may become an expert on your behalf.
  • Attaining a larger settlement with an expert: Whenever your lawyer thinks that your recuperation might be put up larger with an expert, then hiring one may not be used in dealing with your case.

 

Working with an Ideal Expert Witness

To be called as effective, an expert witness needs to possess the following sought-after qualities:

Integrity

Having a jury believe your expert witness is key. However, credibility and authenticity are equally important.

Integrity is a necessary and essential quality for your expert witness to possess.

 

Qualifications

It is vital to find an expert witness whose credentials are focused on research activities specificity, leadership function in professional societies, relevant committee’s participation, and publications’ number and quality.

 

Compassionate

Conveying concern for his research field is vital, as much as being compassionate to all those individuals involved with the case. This does not only go with his client but with the jury, judge, and subject of his research as well.

 

Appeal

A good expert needs to be appealing. And by that, it means that he should hold these valuable factors such as accent, posture, body language, and personality mannerisms.

But one must not forget that a good expert should be holding exceptional teaching skills. How your expert connects with the judge and jury is critical.

 

Communication

Effective communication is needed between a client and expert relationship.

Also, it needs to work with the judge and jury so to gain a connection to the audience. An effective expert witness holds the great ability to draw from their experiences either teaching or lecturing students.

expert witness discusses personal injury lawsuit from car accident

Consistency

Consistency is required in the expert’s given opinions. They need to be stated in their publications, views during meetings, and preceding testimony. A great expert is dependable and unfailing in his process, particularly with his logic in analyzing every key question being asked.

 

Principle

An excellent expert needs to be strong and passionate about their opinions. If their audience senes they are unconcerned about their testimony, then they may only see them as someone trying to get paid for the job.

 

Critical Thinking

Data, approaches, and opinions need to be worked accordingly by an efficiency expert.

One might be challenged with contrasting views, either through deposition or vigorous cross-examinations. With this, the expert must be intelligent enough in signifying to the audience their understanding of those views to deliver a convincing message to them.

All opinions need to be thorough and fit for all the provided data and facts.

For more information with positive expert witness qualities, check out Qualities of a Strong Expert Witness

 

Settling the Case

Many car accidents end in a settlement

This is to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation for both parties. The best way to handle an agreed settlement is to present the case to the insurance company with the help of a detailed demand letter and follow-up negotiations.

  • The Demand Letter: When working with a demand letter, the injured part should set out the accident’s both facts and circumstances. Also, it brings forth medical cure and settlement negotiations. 
  • Initial Offer Negotiation: The insurance company starts on reviewing the demand letter together with the provided documentation. This is where the insurer makes an initial offer for the claims settlement. As a response to such an offer, both you and the lawyer will write a reply to where such an offer is refused. Your letter needs to state the exact reasons as to why it is unacceptable such as how it cannot cover your medical bills or how inadequate it is to your pain.
  • Mediation: Both parties should facilitate a settlement. A mediator is then brought out who is a professional with substantial experience in working with settling personal injury cases.
  • Offer Acceptance: The insurer makes an offer which the victim is satisfied with. It is recommended to double check the offer before accepting it. You have to see if it covers your medical and other important bills that are unpaid. Also, the offer needs to cover sensible compensation after subtracting fees from your lawyer.

 

Consider All of Your Options

It is vital to put together a claim for compensation to easily detect the right expert who can make the strongest case.

Therefore, you need an expert who is not only qualified and experienced but also well-informed and resourceful.

There are plenty of options to choose from. You need to look up as to how the expert has worked with past clients, whether plaintiff or defendant.

An expert helps with the legal representation on your side. 

If you are in the greater Atlanta area and want a consistent and professional injury attorney to get the ball rolling for your car accident case, click the link below for a free case review and get one step ahead on your path to legal success today.

Get Your Free Case Review

Topics: Car Accident Questions Auto Accident Attorneys Help after a Car Accident