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Expert Witnesses

Social Worker As an Expert Witness

Social workers have a vital role as expert witnesses in certain types of cases and using such professionals in the courtroom or behind the scenes is essential. The claims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault or battery and issues with custody or guardianship are all important subjects that a social worker may become necessary.

Having a court-ready social worker is essential so that the expert is able to remain qualified by the judge as a designated expert witness for the specific subject matter. Through preparation, a reliable process and relevant source material for the case or claim, a social worker may stay in the courtroom and provide testimony to the judge or jury. This may require a lengthy interview with the lawyer and answering extensive questions from the opposing legal counsel and judge before the professional ever sees the jury. However, when the social worker is an expert witness, he or she may clear up confusion about numerous topics with ease.

Domestic Violence Cases

When the spouse in a household suffers injury through the actions of another person within the home, a domestic violence case may start. This could include attacks on children, elderly and the other spouse. A social worker may need to interview, counsel and suggest how to proceed through the matter to each party. Additionally, the social worker may have a personal connection to the situation already and become part of the case or claim in the courts through this on the job association. If the professional works with the family, he or she may also prevent further violence and testify on behalf of the injured or against the defendant if the matter proceeds to the criminal courts.

The Welfare of a Child

Social workers that deal with children have a primary concern for ensuring the well-being and health of any children involved in a case or claim with either criminal or civil situations. If the child is the subject of physical or sexual abuse, a social worker may need to provide contacts for therapy, a psychologist and better housing environments to protect the youth from future abuse. Taking him or her out of the abusive home is vital to the future betterment and circumstances of any young person. The social worker then may explain these matters in court so a judge or jury panel has a better understanding of why compensation is necessary or how the defendant is guilty of abuse.

Disability Cases

Social workers may have a job that directly connects them to those that have a physical or mental disability. For criminal proceedings, the activity of the defendant could have led to the harm or cause of a disabled person or disability. In civil litigation, the disabled person is the plaintiff, and he or she may have suffered injury or become disabled through the actions of the defendant directly or through negligence. The social worker would need to explain the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it may connect to the case. For discrimination or termination of a job, the ADA plays a vital role.

Personal Injury Claims

The physical injury to a person may permit a social worker to become an expert witness in the claim against the attacker. The social may provide testimony about the injuries and explain how what the defendant did requires compensation to recover. Additionally, the social worker may have more information about the emotional and psychological effects of the attack that many other experts may lack. This could increase the awareness that a judge or jury will have about the injuries and why future therapy and treatment may become necessary or requires. These matters may increase the compensation needed for the victim to become whole.

Mental injury is often more difficult to prove and explain. However, with a social worker that has a direct involvement in the claim, he or she is usually aware of the specific issue. This may provide a better understanding of the judge or jury panel in the courtroom. The social worker may need to use medical evidence and the responses of the victim to explain the matter and relate the details to the courtroom.

Social Worker Testimony

Through involvement in the claim, a social worker is able to inform the judge or jury members of specific issues that other experts may not understand. Through his or her testimony, the chances of either justice in criminal matters or success in civil claims may increase for the victim or plaintiff.

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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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