The Role of Expert Witnesses in Civil Lawsuits

Everything You Need To Know About An Expert Witness

During a civil case, it is sometimes necessary to seek input or testimony from an expert witness who is qualified to add context and insight thereto. As opposed to witnesses of fact, who simply state their knowledge or recollection of the events that took place, expert witnesses are people with deep and comprehensive expertise in a particular field. They may be brought in to deliver their professional opinion on the plausibility of certain events, or give information that is necessary to understand the case that the average person might not know.

Continue reading to learn more about the role of expert witnesses in civil claims and personal injury lawsuits.

Who Can Be an Expert Witness?

A person who is qualified by knowledge, training, experience, or education in a specialized area of knowledge can be called to testify as an expert and give expert opinions so long as the methodology for his opinions can be shown to be reliable. An attorney determines the need for an expert witness at the beginning of a case. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to verify the witness’s education and experience in their field, ensure they have no conflicts of interest in the case, and confirm that they have not been previously disqualified as an expert witness via a Daubert challenge.

What is a Daubert Challenge?

A Daubert challenge is a motion filed by opposing counsel ahead of a trial that brings into question an expert witness’s qualifications or methodology. If upon hearing, the expert cannot establish that she is properly qualified and that the methodology of arriving at her opinions is accepted by the scientific community as reliable, then the expert will not be permitted to give her opinions to the jury.

Choosing the Right Expert Witness for Your Civil Case

Expert witnesses

Expert witnesses are just one of the costs not considered recoverable by the courts.

The type of expert needed will depend on the facts of your case. For example, a personal injury lawyer on the plaintiff’s side might bring in a medical professional to deliver what is known as “opinion evidence about the plaintiff’s condition and corresponding medical needs. The following types of experts are frequently summoned to give their professional opinions in civil claims court:

  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Neurologists
  • Trauma surgeons
  • Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals
  • Fire investigators

What is an Expert Report?

One of the roles of an expert witness in a civil case is to produce an Expert Report covering the matters that will be discussed in court. The Expert Report must include the witness’s qualifications and the facts and assumptions they are working under, clearly separated from and followed by their professional opinion. Regardless of which side has retained the expert witness, they have a duty to the court to stay impartial.

When the Expert Report is finished, both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s lawyers receive copies. This gives each side an opportunity to assess the strength of their claims given the expert’s professional experience.

Insight From Expert Witnesses

Expert witness testimony can be a crucial component of a civil lawsuit, as it can provide the necessary context to factual evidence. For example, if someone files a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver after suffering a broken leg in an auto accident caused by that driver’s negligence, the defense might claim that the injured individual is lying about how the accident occurred. In that case, an orthopedic specialist may be called in to give their expert testimony on the break in the plaintiff’s leg, or an accident reconstructionist may be asked to testify about the likelihood of the collision in question causing the plaintiff’s broken leg. These expert opinions can help verify whether the plaintiff’s injuries are consistent with the accident happening as they say it did.

The insight provided by expert witnesses helps fill in gaps in the layperson’s knowledge and allows jurors to form a more well-informed view of what happened.

Connect With the Expert Witnesses Your Case Needs

We know how important the role of expert witnesses is to the outcome of some civil lawsuits. For that reason, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. maintains a network of experts in an array of fields who can offer testimony for virtually any civil case. Let us help strengthen your case. Call today.

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