What Is the Role of an Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Case?
In almost any court case, witnesses will be called on to recount the event in question in order to clarify exactly what happened. They are usually someone who saw or heard the accident take place and are asked to testify in order to prove one side or to discredit the other. These types of witnesses are called eyewitnesses. However, there are also expert witnesses that play a huge role in Charlotte personal injury cases. These types of witnesses are usually trained and have specific in-depth knowledge in certain subjects.
The difference between an eyewitness and an expert witness
There are two major elements that differentiate an expert witness from an eyewitness: they are trained professionals in their subject matter, and they are paid for their testimony. Eyewitnesses are people who saw the accident happen and can recount in front of others how it happened, at what time, and what damage they saw. If the case goes to trial, a jury will hear all of this information. On the other hand, an expert witness is a professional who is deemed reputable by the judge and was called in because of their credibility. They will utilize their knowledge, skill, education, experience, and training to give an opinion about the event or circumstances surrounding it.
These expert witnesses did not actually witness the event that led to the claim, but they are asked to testify by an attorney to provide important information pertaining to the claim. They may talk about how the injuries the other side claimed to have are, or are not, consistent with ones that would have happened as a result of an accident. Their testimony is used to either prove or discredit one side.
The different types of expert witnesses
An expert witness simply cannot be an expert on everything. Because these are people who are specialized in a single field, there are so many different kinds of expert witnesses that can be used in a Charlotte personal injury case. Some of those may be:
- Medical doctors. It is doctors’ training that qualifies them as experts. On the stand, they will be able to confidently speak to a person’s injuries, how long those injuries will take to heal, and a person’s estimated mobility after recovery – or if a victim has any chance of a full recovery at all. While medical doctors cannot speak to the exact circumstances of an accident, they can talk about a person’s injuries are consistent with the events. For example, a person who falls down a flight of stairs in a certain way may sustain injuries on one side of the body, or have bones which break in a specific pattern. Medical experts can explain these patterns.
- Car accident reconstructionists. These experts collect data like weather conditions, phone records, and pictures. Then, they use models, computers, and digital renderings to recreate the scene of an accident to answer questions about how the accident happened and who was likely at fault. They may even be able to determine the speed cars were going, the force of impact, and explain how badly injured somebody could get in an accident like that.
- Engineering experts. In the event of a building fire or collapse, engineers can speak to how the structures were built and if they were considered to be safe. They may even be able to pinpoint what caused the accident.
- Economic/financial experts. If a person is no longer able to work because of an injury they sustained in an accident, this witness would help determine the true cost of their economic losses, taking living expenses, inflation, benefits, retirement needs, potential government assistance, and other factors into account. They often work hand-in-hand with life care planners.
- Life care planners. These people are experts on disability and can effectively explain how becoming disabled will impact a person’s life, from future medical expenses to their life expectancy and quality of life. Life care planners also help families plan for assisted living or in-home nursing care. They often work hand-in-hand with financial experts.
- Vocational rehabilitation experts. These experts will compare a person’s physical and mental limitations both before and after their accident. This will show the severity of a person’s injuries and how their earning capacity has been diminished.
- Mental health experts. When a person wants compensation for emotional pain and suffering, this type of expert would be called in to prove that their psychological distress has caused a negative impact on their everyday life.
- Highway safety experts. When road conditions are in question, this expert will be able to answer if the conditions contributed to the accident.
Why you might need an expert witness in a Charlotte personal injury case
Not every personal injury case will require the use of an expert witness. But if you were badly injured in an accident and are filing a personal injury lawsuit in Charlotte, your attorney may call upon an expert witness to make your case even more solid. Severe injuries mean hefty medical bills and possibly even an altered everyday life. It is important that you receive fair compensation for all that you have been through, and having these experts prove the gravity of your injuries could help. With all their years of schooling, training, and real-life work, an expert witness will be able to break down something complex and make it much easier for a judge or jury to understand.
An expert witness can also help pull your case together so well that the other side decides to settle outside of court. This means you will not even need to stand before a jury to argue your case at all and may get your personal injury claim paid sooner than expected.
If you have been in an accident in or around the Charlotte area, reach out to the team at Price, Petho & Associates for help today. You could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering and other losses, and our personal injury attorneys will use their extensive experience and expert witness contacts to help successfully resolve your case. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or complete our contact form today. We have offices in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton.