If a personal injury claim makes it to trial, an expert witness may be called upon to provide testimony. While it is not always necessary, the likelihood of this happening increases when certain elements of a case are difficult to understand unless you have special training or knowledge.

Goldberg Finnegan discusses more about expert witnesses below, including the types of expert witnesses and the impact they can have in a personal injury claim.

What is the Role of an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is not to be confused with an eyewitness. While both may benefit a personal injury case, they have very different roles.

  • Eyewitnesses – may provide a statement or in-person testimony to provide information or clarity about what they saw.
  • Expert witnesses – are not witnesses who saw your accident happen. These are individuals who have expertise, training or knowledge in a specific area that relates to your case, such as your injuries or the cause of the accident.

The testimony of an expert witness can help both juries and judges gain a better understanding of a difficult subject that is outside the scope of the average person’s common knowledge or experience.

What Types of Expert Witnesses Are Used in Personal Injury Claims?

Some cases require consulting experts and others require testifying experts. Sometimes attorneys need both.

A consulting expert explains the key facts and issues to the attorney, who will then use that information in court. A testifying expert testifies in court.

Types of Expert Witnesses

There are many different types of expert witnesses who are used in personal injury claims, including:

  • Medical/Health Expert: A medical expert, such as a doctor, nurse or other medical specialist may testify about the extent of a victim’s injury, the long-term prognosis and how this outcome could impact a victim’s livelihood.
  • Mental Health Specialist: For some victims, an accident may be so traumatic that it can have a lasting emotional impact. A mental health specialist can testify about a victim’s psychological condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression. More importantly a mental health expert can explain how this condition impacts a victim’s ability to function normally at work or even to enjoy life as he or she once did.
  • Accident Reconstruction Expert: An accident reconstruction expert recreates the scene and explains what happened in a way that answers unknown questions about the crash, slip and fall or other accident.
  • Manufacturing Expert: Manufacturing experts may be used, for example, in a defective products case to explain how a product that failed to work as intended could have led to an accident that caused harm to the injured victim.
  • Engineering Expert: An engineering expert is sometimes needed for premises liability cases. For example, an engineering expert may explain how a road was not properly maintained or how the structural integrity of a building failed.
  • Economic Expert: An economic expert may be called upon to provide insight or testimony about the extent or nature of the economic impact an injured victim may suffer as the result of an accident.

Maryland Rule 5-702 Determines Necessity of Expert Witnesses

Under Maryland Rule 5-702, the court decides if an expert witness may be used for a case by determining if:

  • The witness is sufficiently qualified to provide expert testimony
  • The subject matter that will be provided is appropriate
  • There is a legally sufficient and factual basis that supports the expert witness’s testimony

If you are working with a qualified attorney and it is determined that an expert witness is needed, he or she can locate the expert with the appropriate knowledge, training and expertise for your situation.

Why Expert Witnesses Can Be Beneficial to a Personal Injury Case

An expert witness is not required in most personal injury cases. For one thing, there is an extra cost for hiring one, which will be deducted from any compensation you are awarded. Having an experienced attorney handle your case helps to ensure that you do not unnecessarily incur extra expenses.

That said, for complicated injury cases, such as for product liability claims, slip and fall accidents or car crash cases, an expert witness could make a big difference. Having an expert clearly explain technical, medical or financial issues may help judges and jury members to better understand a situation and empathize with the injured victim. Additionally, testimony provided by an expert witness is considered both highly credible and objective, which may result in a more favorable outcome for the victim.

Call Our Law Firm for Legal Help You Can Trust

After being injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, we strongly recommend that you contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Silver Spring as soon after your accident as possible. Our team of legal professionals has extensive experience handling personal injury cases, recovering more than $130 million for our clients. While we do not hire expert witnesses unless they are needed, we know how to determine what type of expert witness may be needed to support and strengthen a complicated case.

Call for your no-cost, no-obligation consultation today to learn more. There are no upfront costs if we represent you.