There are many reasons why a personal injury claim may go to trial. Insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying out on a claim. If there is any gray area regarding something such as who caused the accident or whether the claimed injuries were preexisting or a result of the accident, the insurance company will look to exploit it as best as possible. While the majority of personal injury claims settle before trial, some personal injury claims are not settled before trial. Should your claim go to a trial, you will get a glimpse of all that goes into presenting a case to a judge or jury. Your attorney will be strategizing on the most effective way to detail your case and explain its details to a judge or jury. Part of an effective trial strategy will often involve retaining expert witnesses to testify at trial. Here, we will discuss more details on the role of an expert witness at a personal injury trial.
What Do Expert Witnesses Do In A Personal Injury Case?
To start, it is important to understand what exactly an expert witness is and how an expert witness differs from a lay witness. A lay witness is one that is qualified to testify at trial because he or she has personal information relating to the facts of the case. For instance, a person who was at the accident scene and witnessed the accident may be a lay witness at trial as might a friend or family member be a lay witness to testify as to how the accident and your resulting injuries have impacted your life.
An expert witness, on the other hand, is not testifying because he or she has personal knowledge relating to the relevant issues of the case but because he or she has expertise in an area that can illuminate and unravel complex and contested issues of the case. This expertise is usually rooted in something such as education or experience working in a particular field. For instance, an economist might appear as an expert witness at trial to detail the financial toll an accident has taken on a person. A vocational expert witness may testify as to how the injuries prevent the accident injury victim from working or from working in the same job as he or she had prior to the accident. An accident reconstructionist can provide illuminating testimony in such cases where there were no accident witnesses and it is essentially one driver’s word against another driver’s word. The accident reconstructionist can explain, based on things like the physical evidence found at the scene and the nature of the damage to the vehicles involved, how the accident is likely to have occurred and who is most likely the party responsible for causing the accident.
Because the testimony given by an expert witness is based on professional expertise, their opinions are seen as more objective than that of other witnesses. Due to the objectivity, the judge or jury tends to give a significant amount of weight to the testimony of an expert witness. Having an expert witness present at trial can not only help clarify some of the more complex issues or hotly contested issues of the case, but it can help increase damage awards.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
Not all personal injury attorneys are willing to take a claim all the way to trial. At Cooper Schall & Levy we are in it for the long haul. We don’t shy away from a fight with the big insurance companies and we are here to see that you get the monetary compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today.