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The Role of Expert Witnesses

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Posted on August 23, 2023

During a personal injury claim, the injured party or plaintiff has the burden of proof. To obtain financial compensation, the victim or victim’s Tampa personal injury attorney must establish that someone else is more likely to be at fault for the injury than not. One key type of evidence often used in a personal injury lawsuit is testimony from an expert witness.

What Is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is someone who is hired to testify during a legal dispute by reason of his or her education, job experience, training or skill. An expert has special knowledge of a particular field or subject beyond that of a layman, making his or her opinion valuable in the expert’s area of expertise. The purpose of hiring an expert witness is to enhance the credibility of the information that a party is presenting. Experts can also be used to collect, test and evaluate evidence.

The facts of a personal injury case can be difficult for the average person to understand, especially if the case involves complicated topics. For example, a medical malpractice claim may require medical experts to help a jury understand a nuanced topic or the standards of care in the medical industry. A testifying expert can explain confusing subjects in a way that the average person would understand. A consulting expert cannot testify but can give information to counsel or involved parties to help the case.

Expert witnesses must be qualified to take on this role during a personal injury claim in Florida. Qualifying an expert requires the court to confirm that the subject matter of the case is proper for expert testimony. Then, the court must determine if the witness is adequately qualified to express an opinion on the subject at hand.

What Are Examples of Expert Witnesses?

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.390 defines an expert witness as a person duly and regularly engaged in the practice of a profession who holds a college degree and has had special training and experience, or is one possessed of special knowledge or skill about the subject matter. Many types of expert witnesses can meet this definition, including:

  • Medical experts
  • Engineering experts
  • Traffic accident experts
  • Financial or economic experts
  • Vocational experts
  • Forensic experts

The type of expert that may be appropriate to use in a personal injury claim depends on the nature of the legal dispute. In a car accident case, for example, it may be helpful to hire accident reconstruction experts, automotive specialists, economic experts and medical experts to provide an opinion on the cause of the crash or demonstrate the plaintiff’s losses.

How Do You Hire an Expert Witness?

A skilled expert witness can make all the difference to the outcome of a personal injury claim in Tampa. If your attorney believes an expert witness can be useful for your case, the law firm can reach out to experts it has connections with from prior cases or hire new experts based on the specific needs of your case. You can trust a law firm to hire only the most highly qualified experts who are at the top of their fields. Your attorney will work closely with the expert(s) to obtain and evaluate evidence and/or prepare legal testimony to support your case.

To find out if your case might benefit from expert witnesses, contact Vanguard Attorneys for a free evaluation.