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Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Do You Need an Expert Witness?

The decision to hire an expert witness generally depends on the subject material of the case and how involved the matter is that could confuse the judge or panel of jury members. The more confusing or complicated the information, the greater the need to hire a professional exists, and this may lead to seeking the right fit for the claim.

The case that requires forensic services or someone with experience to unravel the confusion may demand an expert. Other cases and claims that have complex issues such as a car accident with multiple victims could need someone to reconstruct the accident and determine who holds responsibility. This is especially important in states that rely on fault to calculate how much compensation the victim may claim. Other important factors revolve around the potential for harm in a defective product or when the plaintiff needs a professional to expose a design defect. The lawyer will usually hire the expert based on the subject matter.

Testing and Evaluations

When the expert becomes part of the case, he or she will test the evidence and make opinions about the process. He or she may connect the evidence to the scene, the defendant or to another issue connected
to the case. Evaluations of the professional may enlighten the judge or jury about certain issues or explain how the defendant is responsible for the injury. Testing materials may take time, and some cases require creating reports that contain the testing processes, evaluations and opinions. The expert may even explain other related aspects of the claim in the report or when presenting testimony in the courtroom.

Criminal Trials

When the person facing charges requires additional experience or knowledge of the subject material, he or she may need the help of an expert witness. This is especially important in forensic sciences where the time of death, connecting evidence to the scene or determining something specific is necessary. Other instances where the client will require help include accident reconstruction for criminal traffic offenses. If the victim died or suffered injury and the defendant faces felony traffic violation charges, he or she may need to hire an expert witness to reconstruct the accident and explain certain issues within the incident.

Civil Claims

When a plaintiff needs to prove liability or that the defendant is at fault in an accident, he or she may need an expert witness to clear up the matter or test evidence to connect the fault to the other party. The services of a professional are often important when the claim involves negligence, the duty of care and how the injuries have a foundation and direct connection to the negligence of the defending party. The expert may inform the courtroom of numerous issues that the defendant may attempt to deflect or convince the judge or jury is the fault or partially to blame with the plaintiff.

Negligence and Liability

To help prove the four elements of negligence, an expert witness is often necessary. The plaintiff must demonstrate to the courts that the defendant owed a duty of care to the injured party, that this duty was in breach, the breach caused the injury and that the injury has a direct connection to the duty breached to the other person or company. In many situations in the courtroom, negligence is a difficult aspect to prove when the judge or jury requires proof of wrongdoing. This happens in medical malpractice such as when the patient suffers an unnecessary injury that was preventable.

When the other party owes a duty of care, is negligent or holds liability, the plaintiff may need a professional to expose the matter further. He or she may need someone experienced with the subject matter to help point out various aspects that connect the liability to the defendant. This could exist in evidence that needs testing, through various processes or by connecting the fault to the other party. Another battle exists if the plaintiff must prove that he or she was not partially responsible for the injury so that he or she may collect the full compensation owed.

Hiring the Expert Witness for the Case

After the lawyer and client determine that an expert is necessary for the case, it is time to research and interview someone with the relevant background and reliable testing methods. This may take extra time, and the right fit is important for the case. This professional should communicate appropriately and help the legal team through the subject matter.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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