An expert witness is any individual who has information beyond the reasonable knowledge of a layperson and could provide context to the accident or injuries at a trial. Typical expert witnesses used in Atlanta car accident trials are accident reconstructionists and medical providers. Treating doctors and the law enforcement officials who investigated the wreck also qualify as experts who can offer testimony. We suggest using an expert witness during trial to help explain key issues of liability, causation, and damages to a jury.
An attorney could provide a list of potential experts who might be able to help your case and persuade a jury to award damages.
How Does Somebody Become an Expert Witness?
Most expert witnesses have significant experience in their chosen field, through which they have gained specialized knowledge that allows them to offer testimony during litigation. Many accident reconstructionists have a background in law enforcement, while medical professionals who testify are often actively involved in providing care and treatment to patients.
There are no minimum statutory requirements for expert witnesses in car accident cases. However, there is a law requiring judges to determine whether a witness is qualified to offer their opinions if one of the parties challenges it. This requires a lawyer to question the witness about their education, training, and experience to ensure that those opinions fall within the areas of the witness’ expertise. If they do not, a lawyer could file a motion with the court to exclude the witness as unqualified.
What Types of Witnesses Are Used in Car Crash Trials?
The most common type of expert witness that we use in local car accident trials is a medical doctor. Doctors tend to be the most common expert witnesses in almost all significant auto accident cases. Medical doctors can testify about the nature and extent of injuries, causation, and necessary care.
The second most common type of expert witness in a car accident case is someone well-versed in motor vehicle law or accident investigation, such as a police officer or accident reconstructionist who might be able to discuss speed, perception, reaction, et cetera.
Certain expert witnesses are allowed to have an existing relationship with the plaintiff, such as their treating doctors. However, an independently retained expert should not have a preexisting relationship with the plaintiff, or else risk the jury dismissing them as biased.
How a Jury Responds to an Expert
The benefits of having an expert witness testify on one’s behalf during trial can vary from case to case. For instance, a liability expert will not be necessary if liability is either undisputed or is so obvious that it is unnecessary to call an expert to testify about it. However, even if an individual’s injuries are obvious, it is important for a jury to understand how severe their injuries are or how expensive their medical care was. It may be difficult to fully communicate that to a jury without the testimony of expert medical witnesses.
The weight that a jury gives to expert witness testimony is entirely up to them. If the witness is compelling and communicates their opinions to the jury in an understandable and believable way, their testimony can carry a lot of weight. Alternatively, if the witness lacks credibility or fails to communicate clearly, a jury is unlikely to give their testimony much weight.
Drawbacks to Having an Expert
Someone might not want an expert witness for their car accident case in Atlanta if the expert’s testimony is not going to be helpful, confuses the case’s theory, or if the witness lacks credibility. A plaintiff might not want that witness for fear of damaging their chance at compensation.
Plaintiffs should also know that expert witnesses, even if they are treating doctors, often cost money due to their experience and because testifying often takes time away from their active medical practices. While expert witness testimony is often an important element of car accident cases, it will likely result in a significant expense that may be deducted from the plaintiff’s recovery at the end of the case.
Discuss Expert Witnesses in Atlanta Car Accident Trials with an Attorney
The right witness could be a deciding factor in whether you are given the relief you need after suffering a devastating injury. We have experience in understanding who might be the most likely person to help your case. Give us a call to learn more about the use of expert witnesses in Atlanta car accident trials.