Why Do I Need All These “Expert Witnesses” at My Personal Injury Trial?

When you suffer an injury due to another person’s negligence, you may choose to hire a Nashville personal injury attorney to represent you. During an initial meeting with your attorney, they may explain that using expert witnesses could benefit your case. This may lead you to wonder what exactly expert witnesses do and why you might need them for your personal injury trial.

Expert witnesses help personal injury cases by evaluating and explaining the injury, accident, and prognosis. The expert witness will go over the details of what may have happened during your accident, how severe your injury is, the type of treatment you will need to undergo, and how long it will take you to recover. This is important because it helps your personal injury attorney explain the facts of your case to the court.

There are some cases where an expert witness is not needed. However, expert witnesses are beneficial to many different types of cases as they assist the judge and jury “in reaching a more appropriate conclusion regarding the case than they would have without the expert’s testimony.”

Five different types of commonly used expert witnesses in personal injury cases

When a lawyer needs to find an expert witness to assist them with explaining the details of a case, they will come across many different types from which to choose. Therefore, they will need to determine that the expert is experienced, trained, and skilled in the specific subject matter. Here are five commonly used expert witnesses:

  1. Medical experts: Most medical expert witnesses are medical professionals such as doctors, physicians, nurses, or other individuals with experience or training in the medical field. When an attorney hires a medical expert witness, they usually testify in malpractice or personal injury cases. These types of witnesses can help the court comprehend the amount of suffering and pain that an individual has suffered as well as explain whether they will ever recover from their injuries. They can also help with wrongful death cases, where they explain how the death of an individual occurred.
  2. Accident reconstruction experts. These folks typically investigate and analyze data from the crash scene itself, to help show a jury (or an insurance company, if our attorneys are negotiating a settlement) how a collision occurred. They may examine the angle of the crash, the impact forces on the vehicle, bicycle, or person, the tire tracks on the ground, any available video/camera footage or “black box data,” and more to help reconstruct the crash.
  3. Product safety experts: Every single product that hits the market must be safe for consumer use. Even the slightest design, manufacturer, or advertising flaw can lead to a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer, advertiser, or any other entity involved in getting the product out to the public. A product safety expert will be able to explain how product liability works, examine the product that caused your injuries, and explain how different entities can make mistakes in ensuring product safety.
  4. Architects: Architects can play a major role as an expert witness in a premises liability case that left you injured. For example, if you suffered an injury because a piece of a building fell and hit you while walking on the nearby sidewalk, the designer, developer, and other people who worked on the construction of the building can all be held accountable.
  5. Fire code officials: Every state has some form of a fire code enforcement division. In Tennessee, this official is known as the State Fire Marshal. The Fire Marshal, or their designee, could be called as an expert witness to discuss the state fire code, how the office enforces the fire code, and how violations of the fire code could have led to your injuries.

How does a professional qualify as an expert witness?

In order to appear at a trial for a personal injury claim, the person acting as an expert witness must be able to meet the following requirements from the Tennessee State Courts Rule 702: Testimony by Experts, Article VII. Opinions and Expert Testimony: “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will substantially assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise.”

What makes an expert witness different from an attorney?

An expert witness is hired by your attorney to explain the facts of your case, while your attorney is hired to represent you in court. Therefore, an expert witness will only provide their professional, unbiased opinion on the specific issue that they were hired to explain. An expert witness cannot give any type of legal advice.

A personal injury attorney will advocate on your behalf, stand up for your rights, and fight for fair compensation to help you get back on your feet. When you hire a lawyer, they will explain your legal options and help you make decisions regarding your claim. That said, attorneys are the ones who build a strong case against the defendant and help you win cases, while expert witnesses assist in helping the jury and judge understand the facts and evidence found.

If you have recently been injured due to someone else’s negligence, our Nashville personal injury lawyers at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are here to help. We understand that the legal system can be intimidating and confusing, but we will remain by your side, supporting you every step of the way. For a free consultation, please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We assist clients in Nashville, Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Clarksville, and we will be happy to assist you as well!