Expert witnesses may be used in personal injury cases during the investigation, negotiation, and trial phases. The evidence, guidance, and information provided by an expert witness can be crucial to winning a personal injury case. Both the plaintiff and the defense may use expert witnesses during the pre-trial and trial phases of the case.
What Are the Advantages of Using an Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Case?
An expert witness does not have firsthand knowledge of the facts of the case or the circumstances that led to the injury claim or lawsuit. Therefore, they are not an eyewitness.
Instead, they provide expert opinions and testimony related to their field of expertise. Experts have specialized knowledge, education, experience, and skills.
During a trial, an expert witness may:
- Explain technical and complex topics to jurors in terms the average person could understand
- Counter the claims of the defense’s expert witnesses
- Provide opinions based on the expert’s specializations, knowledge, and experience
- Make inferences based on scientific methods
- Summarize the facts of the case relevant to theories of causation, fault, and negligence
- Provide factual, unbiased testimony
In some cases, a party may be required to use an expert witness to testify as to some of the elements of the case. For example, before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must conduct a pre-suit investigation. In addition, you must have an expert medical opinion from a licensed physician stating that negligence or malpractice occurred.
Trained expert witnesses understand what happens during a trial. In many cases, they have testified in other cases and are comfortable speaking in court. They expect and are prepared for the opposing attorney to attack their testimony and opinions.
Qualifications for Expert Witnesses
A person must be qualified to testify as an expert witness. Florida Statute §766.102 provides the qualifications for medical experts in personal injury cases.
The statute requires specific years of practice, areas of practice, education, and other qualifications for a medical expert. The requirements may differ depending on the type of medical professional being qualified as an expert witness.
The Florida Supreme Court has issued several rulings regarding the admission of expert witness testimony. The current standard adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in 2019 is referred to as the Daubert procedural rule.
The federal courts and now Florida state courts follow the elements outlined in the United States Supreme Court case of Daubert. Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 702 and Florida Evidence Code §90.702 were amended to apply the Daubert standard.
Several factors are used to determine whether a person is qualified to be an expert witness. Some factors that a judge may consider include, but are not limited to:
- Professional credentials
- Education and training
- Published studies and research
- Peer-reviewed papers and articles
- Specialized training and certifications
- Reputation within the field of expertise
- Years of experience
- Actual practice or work within the chosen field
The defense has the right to challenge whether a witness is an expert. The judge would make the final decision whether to allow the person to testify as an expert.
Types of Expert Witnesses in Miami Personal Injury Cases
Expert witnesses are needed in a variety of personal injury cases. Expert witnesses may testify in all types of personal injury cases. The types of expert witnesses who testify in court and consult on injury cases include, but are not limited to:
These experts examine a motor vehicle crash to identify the factors that led to the collision. They use numerous tools to identify the parties who contributed to the cause of the accident. These experts may also work on other cases involving accidental injuries.
Medical experts testify about the plaintiff’s injuries and how those injuries impact the plaintiff’s ability to work or perform activities of daily living. In a medical malpractice case, a medical expert testifies about the standard of care that should have been used in a situation and how the defendant’s conduct fell short.
An economic expert may testify about the future lost wages the plaintiff will incur because of a permanent disability or impairment. An economist may also assist in calculating the anticipated future medical expenses and other costs the plaintiff may incur because of the injury.
Manufacturing experts often assist in product liability cases. They explain the factors that caused the product to be defective and why the manufacturing process was to blame.
Engineering experts may testify in a car accident, premises liability case, and many other types of injury cases. An engineer explains technical concepts that contributed to the accident in terms jurors understand.
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