The Role of an Expert Witness in an Injury Case
The person sipping coffee at a corner cafe who happened so see your accident take place could be a valuable witness to have in your corner. Likewise, the same holds true for any other drivers who saw what happened or pedestrians who are willing to testify about the events of your accident or the conditions that day. When there are disputed facts in a case, eyewitnesses can be invaluable, but they are not the only type of witness that can help your case.
What is an Expert Witness?
Expert witnesses are completely different from eye witnesses. In fact, they are not people who were present at your accident at all. Personal injury attorneys often use expert witnesses to protect their client’s rights and secure the best possible settlement in an injury case. An expert witness is someone who has expertise in a certain area either due to their education, training, or experience, and who is asked to testify using their expert knowledge in a case.
Why Use an Expert Witness in an Injury Case?
Even when you believe that the other party is clearly at fault or know that you have suffered a certain level of damages, the insurance company or their attorney may not cooperate. Insurance companies are not in the business of making large payouts and would instead rather protect their bottom line at all costs.
An expert witness can be used to help settle two different areas that might be in dispute: fault; and the valuation of damages. Let’s assume that the other side is alleging that you are more than 50% at fault in the accident. Because of West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence laws, this could bar you from collecting any damages in an injury case. An expert witness may be able to help you prove that you were either not at fault at all or less so than the insurance company claims.
The other way that experts are used are to prove damages. An insurance company may want to offer you a quick settlement that is much less than your case is worth. An expert witness can help prove that you have substantial damages that may include future medical care, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
The Different Roles of Expert Witnesses
Not all witnesses are going to enter a courtroom to testify on your behalf. This is particularly the case with expert witnesses who may be consulting your legal team. A consulting expert will simply advise the plaintiff’s legal team according to their area of expertise. The other side may never know that an expert was used in your case. On the other hand, a testifying expert will go in front of a judge or jury to provide sworn testimony, so it is vital that these people are chosen with care.
The Various Types of Expert Witnesses in Injury Cases
Whether your personal injury attorney’s goal is to prove negligence or damages, some of the common types of witnesses used in injury cases include:
- Accident Reconstruction Specialists. These experts will help prove liability by reconstructing accidents with data about vehicles, road and weather conditions, speed, and traffic signals.
- Medical Experts. A medical expert can testify about the severity of injuries, the need for medical care, and the contribution of any pre-existing conditions.
- Vocational Specialists. These experts can testify about the work you performed before the accident and the potential for lost earning capacity due to your injuries.
- Designers and Engineers. If the accident was caused by a mechanical failure or design defect, these experts would be invaluable in proving your case.
Speak with a Qualified West Virginia Injury Lawyer Now
Even though many injury cases are settled without having to go to trial, you want the best legal team possible on your side to increase the chances of a favorable outcome. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. we have been helping the victims of some of West Virginia’s most severe accidents to hold the responsible parties accountable, often with the use of expert witnesses.
Our legal team will sit down with you and your loved ones, learn as much as possible about your situation, and take the steps necessary to protect your legal rights. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, we will work diligently to get you the compensation you need and deserve. Contact our Charleston office now at 800-497-0234 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.