Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but when an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, the stage is set for a trial. It is incumbent upon the injured party to prove that the defendant’s actions caused their injury and that they deserve compensation. In some circumstances, the services of an expert witness may bolster their case. The defendant also has that tool at their disposal.
What is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is a professional who has extensive training and knowledge in a specific subject area—for instance, medicine, mental health, auto accident reconstruction, economics, etc. Their job is to offer neutral, unbiased opinions on the matter for which they were retained. They are not to be advocates for one side or the other and are paid handsomely for their services.
An expert witness may be a testifying or consulting witness. A testifying expert witness delivers testimony in the courtroom and is expected to skillfully communicate their opinions and information in understandable, accessible terms. They are also subject to the rules of discovery. The opposing party must be notified of their identity, field of expertise, subject matter of their testimony, opinions to which they will testify, and the basis of their opinions so they can prepare for rebuttal and cross-examination.
A consulting expert witness offers behind-the-scenes clarification and explanation of key issues to the attorney who retained them. Consulting expert witnesses do not testify in court and are not subject to the rules of discovery.
The stakes can be enormous in personal injury cases. Expert witnesses don’t come cheap, but they may mean the difference between obtaining fair compensation and receiving no compensation at all.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help After a Car Crash