The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Construction Site Accident Lawsuits
Construction is a dangerous profession that involves the continual use of hard objects and heavy machinery in a fast-paced environment. These conditions pose a constant danger to those working at the job site and even those who are passing by. Construction site accidents happen frequently, and when they do, those who are injured are usually eligible for compensation.
Recovering compensation in a construction site accident injury is a complicated process. There are several potential causes for the accident and multiple parties that could be at fault. As such, there are many possible avenues available to obtain appropriate relief. This may include filing a workers’ compensation claim with the employer, filing a personal injury or product liability lawsuit against a third party, or filing a deliberate intent lawsuit against the employer.
Some parties that may be responsible when a construction accident occurs include:
- The injured worker’s employer;
- The construction site owner;
- An equipment, machinery, or product designer or manufacturer;
- A subcontractor;
- An architect or engineer;
- A government agency.
To determine liability, an extensive investigation is required to find out how the accident happened and uncover the root causes. Once you find out the cause of the accident and who was responsible, you must also show that the accident resulted in compensable losses (i.e., damages) to the injured party. Throughout this process, expert witnesses can be invaluable in providing clarity regarding certain aspects of the case for which they have specialized knowledge.
What is an Expert Witness?
Expert witnesses are professionals who have in-depth knowledge, education, training, and experience in a certain field, and can draw on this expertise to provide authoritative testimony to explain various facts and pieces of evidence that fall within their area of specialty. Unlike eyewitnesses, expert witnesses almost never witnessed the actual event. However, their testimony can carry a lot of weight with the court because they provide objective opinions that are viewed as highly credible by a judge or jury.
Expert Witnesses that are Used in Construction Site Accident Cases
Each accident case is unique, and the types of expert witnesses that are used will vary from case to case. These experts are chosen carefully by the plaintiffs’ legal counsel based on what aspects of the case are most critical for proving liability, causation, and damages.
Some of the experts that are frequently called upon in construction accident cases include:
- Accident Reconstructionists: When the cause of a construction site accident is in dispute, the testimony of an accident reconstructionist can help to cut through the speculation and clarify exactly what happened. Accident reconstructionists review multiple pieces of evidence, including the accident report and photos of the job site, to put together a timeline of events and determine (with as much certainty as possible) what caused the accident.
- Designers and Engineers: If the construction accident was caused by a faulty product design, equipment failure, or something related, a designer or engineer can help shed light on what went wrong and how the defect or failure contributed to the accident.
- Medical Professionals: In almost all personal injury lawsuits in which the plaintiff sustained moderate to severe injuries, the testimony of the plaintiff’s primary physician and other medical experts is very important to show the extent of the injuries. Medical professionals can speak to areas such as the plaintiff’s diagnosis, treatment and recovery plan, future prognosis, and how their medical condition will affect their ability to work. Psychologists and psychiatrists may also be called on to speak to any trauma and other emotional damage that may have resulted from the injury.
- Economists: When someone is injured in a construction site accident, there are likely to be major financial implications. An economist can explain the overall economic cost of the injury, such as the medical expenses (both present and future), lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity.
- Vocational Experts: A vocational expert can provide some specific insights on the work the plaintiff was able to perform before the injury, and how the injury has affected their ability to continue working. And if the plaintiff is unable to return to his/her previous job, a vocational expert can explain why this is the case and help the jury understand what work (if any) the plaintiff is still able to perform after he/she reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Injured at a Construction Site in West Virginia? Call the Experienced Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.
If you have suffered injuries from a construction accident, you may be eligible for compensation. But as mentioned earlier, these cases are highly complex, and you need a seasoned attorney by your side to advocate forcefully for your rights and interests and to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time.
At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over 40 years of experience successfully representing clients who have suffered all types of personal injuries in West Virginia. We work closely with our clients, putting our in-depth experience to work and calling on expert witnesses when necessary to help ensure that our clients recover every dollar of compensation they are entitled to.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our web contact form.