Expert Witnesses’ Role
Have you or a loved one sustained a personal injury in North Carolina and want to know about the expert witnesses’ role in your case? Watch this video.
What is the role of an expert witness in my personal injury case?
Recently one of my clients that we’re representing in a serious catastrophic injury case, a bad case, came to my office and wanted to ask some questions. They had sent me an email and said, “Hey, I’ve got some questions about expert witnesses.” I made the decision to, rather than explain it to them over email, make an appointment and meet with them in person to answer their questions because expert witnesses can be very important.
An expert witness is someone that the law deems trustworthy enough to give opinions. We have two kinds of witnesses. We have witnesses that are lay witnesses: people in the law that a judge will allow to testify about what they witnessed firsthandand maybe what they heard. Lawyers call them fact witnesses. They are witnesses that can testify about the facts, but they’re not allowed to give opinions about the facts unless they can demonstrate to the judge that they have qualifications and they’ve done homework that makes their opinions reliable enough so the jury can decided whether they’re believable or not.
Typically, the most obvious expert witness is the doctor that’s treating you. A doctor that’s treating you can be a fact witness because they know when you came to see them and what they observed. A doctor that’s treating you can give opinions based on their medical training, going to medical school, their experience in practicing, and the fact that they have treated you as a patient and may have done some research about your particular medical condition. A judge will listen to their qualifications, and then make a ruling that, yes, we’re going to allow this doctor to give opinions about the case in addition to giving facts about the case.
There are other types of expert witnesses. You have expert witnesses that reconstruct collisions, how something happened on the open highway. They are engineers. Those engineers have to demonstrate qualifications that show that their opinions would be reliable to go before a jury. You can have expert witnesses that are vocational counselors, and those expert witnesses can show that they have the qualifications to develop opinions about how your injuries will impact your ability to return to work. You can have an expert witness that hasn’t really gone to school, but they have so much experience that the court deems them reliable enough to give opinions. This could be someone who spent all their life training horses, or it could be someone who has received training and experience with cars and doing mechanical work but never went to any type of two- or three-year training to do mechanical work; they just have sufficient experience with certain types of mechanical problems that enable them, in the judge’s opinion, to give certain opinion evidence about certain mechanical issues.
Expert witnesses can come in many shapes and forms, but the main thing to remember is an expert witness is able to give an opinion; they are not simply limited to give facts. If you’ve got questions about an expert witness in your case and you want to talk to our law firm about that, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to talk with you about your case and how experts can impact your case.
Were you or a loved one severely injured by a negligent person in North Carolina and have questions about an expert witnesses’ role? Contact experienced Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer H. Bright Lindler today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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