The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the victim to show that they have a right to compensation. Winning an injury case in Alabama is even more difficult than most other states because plaintiffs are unable to collect damages if they are determined to be partially at fault for the incident.
Most states use a more plaintiff-friendly doctrine known as “comparative negligence”. Under “comparative negligence”, a plaintiff can still collect damages if they share fault, but the damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage they are determined to be at fault in the case.
Because of the high burden of proof in Alabama injury cases, it is important to collect as much evidence as possible. Evidence can come in many forms; accident reports, multiple photographs of the scene, medical records, video footage of the incident, statements from eyewitnesses, and statements from expert witnesses. While all forms of evidence are helpful in proving an injury case, the testimony of expert witnesses can often be a deciding factor.
What is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is distinguished in his/her area of specialty because they have achieved a high level of education, knowledge, skills, and training. Expert witnesses are almost never eyewitnesses to the incident. Their value to the case is in their credibility and ability to speak authoritatively regarding a particular factor (or set of factors).
There are numerous professionals who may serve as expert witnesses in an injury case. Some of the most common include:
- Accident Reconstruction Experts
- Medical Examiners
- Rehabilitation Specialists
- Pain Management Professionals
- Mental Health Professionals
- Financial Professionals
- Life Care Planners
- Vocational Experts
- Phone Records Specialists
- Forensic Evidence Experts
- Manufacturing Specialists
The Role of Expert Witnesses in Alabama Injury Cases
Expert witnesses are called upon to lend their scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge to a case. This level of expertise allows them to clarify certain facts and evidence in a case and put it in proper perspective for the judge or jury.
There are two ways expert witnesses are typically used in injury cases:
A consulting expert works behind the scenes to review certain facts and evidence, provide advice, assist with the legal strategy, and provide other types of support for the legal team. Unless the consulting expert is later converted to a testifying expert, the other side may never know that they were consulted in the case.
A testifying expert is a specialist who the attorney is prepared to call and testify in front of a judge or jury. Testifying experts must be disclosed to the other side, and for this reason, they must be chosen carefully. This type of expert typically has strong communication skills and the ability to make complex factors understandable for the average layperson. They also tend to have in-depth experience testifying in a courtroom.
Testimony from injury victims, family and friends, and eyewitnesses can all be helpful, but their testimony may be viewed as biased by those deciding the case. And because they are usually not experienced on the witness stand, it may be easier for the other side to poke holes in their testimony during cross-examination. Testifying experts tend to speak with authority and confidence, which makes their testimony more credible to a judge or jury.
It is important to note that not all testifying experts are called to the stand. In fact, a large percentage of injury cases are settled before they ever get to trial. That said, a strong legal team will be well-prepared to aggressively litigate the case at trial and upon appeal. Having expert witnesses on the team that are highly reputable and are ready to provide testimony that will help shed a favorable light on the client’s case is often enough to compel the other side to seek a reasonable settlement.
Speak with a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
The use of expert witnesses can be critical in proving fault and securing full damages in an injury case. This is one of many reasons it is important to work with a seasoned attorney who is not afraid to bring in experts when needed. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have in-depth experience successfully litigating even the most complex personal injury cases. We have relationships with numerous reputable professionals whom we routinely call on to bolster the credibility of our clients’ cases. Our firm has the skills, resources, and dedication to ensure that our clients receive the strong representation they need and deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party, contact our office today at 334-699-5599 for a free consultation.